Drumbeat: November 12, 2012

U.S. to overtake Saudi as top oil producer - IEA

LONDON (Reuters) - The United States will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's top oil producer by 2017, the West's energy agency said on Monday, predicting the major energy importer would soon achieve self-sufficiency in oil and gas. The forecasts by the International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises large industrialised nations on energy policy, were in sharp contrast to previous IEA reports, which saw Saudi Arabia remaining the top producer until 2035.

"Energy developments in the United States are profound and their effect will be felt well beyond North America - and the energy sector," the IEA said in its annual long-term report. "The recent rebound in U.S. oil and gas production, driven by upstream technologies that are unlocking light tight oil and shale gas resources, is spurring economic activity - with less expensive gas and electricity prices giving industry a competitive edge," it added.

The IEA said it saw a continued fall in U.S. oil imports with North America becoming a net oil exporter by around 2030.

The new World Energy Outlook 2012 was released today. The executive summary is here [PDF] and the fact sheets are here [PDF].

IEA sees OPEC output rising by more than 10 million b/d by 2035

London (Platts) - The International Energy Agency sees OPEC oil production growing significantly in the long term, boosted by the large reserves held by its member countries.

In its latest annual World Oil Outlook, released Monday, the IEA said it saw OPEC output rising by more than 10 million b/d from current levels until 2035.

IEA cuts global forecast for growth in nuclear capacity

London (Platts) - The International Energy Agency has cut its 2011 projections for growth in installed nuclear power capacity by 10% to 580 gigawatts in 2035 in its latest World Energy Outlook issued Monday, Fatih Birol, chief economist of the Paris-based agency told a news conference in London to present the report.

Tapping the 'hidden fuel' crucial, IEA says

THE huge untapped potential saving from more efficient use of energy and a resurgence of US energy production are two key conclusions from this year's World Energy Outlook report compiled by the International Energy Agency.

The ''disappointingly slow progress'' over the past decade towards more productive energy use means countries are paying a price in economic growth, energy security and the environment, the agency said.

The Real Energy Crisis

Five years ago we got the energy crisis wrong. Predictions of peak oil and declining sources of petroleum supply convinced many of an impending geologic and strategic crisis: the world was physically running out of recoverable oil and the remaining sources of significant supply were declining in number and located in politically unstable areas. This crisis drove major investment into advanced batteries and electric vehicles, which were seen as the best and most flexible way to substitute other fuels for petroleum.

Is Bakken set to rival Ghawar?

LONDON (Reuters) - Could oil production from the Bakken formation in North Dakota and Montana rival output from Saudi Arabia's supergiant Ghawar oilfield, the greatest oil-bearing structure the world has ever known?

Until recently, comparisons between the shale fields of the Bakken and Ghawar, which produces 5 million barrels per day, would have been dismissed as fanciful.

But Bakken's exponential growth and enormous reserves put it on course to produce more than 1 million barrels per day by the middle of next year, which will earn it a place in the small pantheon of truly elite oil fields.

Energy Independence and the Myth of Peak Oil

Each time oil prices spike higher during a short-term deficiency, the concept of Peak Oil rears its ugly head.

Peak Oil is the theoretical idea that the world will eventually reach a maximum rate of oil production, which will be followed by a terminal decline.

No doubt, that’s a scary theory should it come to pass. However, as Yogi Berra famously, said, “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”

Does the IMF believe we have a peak oil problem?

The point of the exercise is not to predict a specific outcome. Rather, the authors want to explore just how sensitive the world economy may be to oil supplies and highlight the uncertainties surrounding those supplies. While there has been much talk about how the world economy is becoming less oil-intensive per dollar of output, the researchers turn this observation on its head:

[I]f it really only takes a one third of one percentage point increase in oil supply per annum to support additional GDP growth of one percentage point, then it must also be true that it would only take a one third of one percentage point decrease in oil supply growth to reduce GDP growth by a full percentage point. And the kinds of declines in oil supply growth that are now being discussed as realistic possibilities are far larger than one third of one percentage point.

Brent Oil Snaps Two-Day Gain as Europeans Seek Greek Deal

Brent crude halted a two-day advance in London before European finance ministers meet to discuss aid for Greece amid concern that the region’s debt turmoil will constrain fuel consumption.

Shell sees Iraq Majnoon 2013 output at over 200,000 bpd

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's Majnoon oilfield, operated by Royal Dutch Shell, is expected to hit output above 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the third quarter of 2013 - above the level needed to start recovering costs, Shell's 2013 programme for Majnoon said.

TNK-BP to secure $31 billion in long-term Russia gas deals

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Two Russian energy companies controlled by billionaire Viktor Vekselberg's KES are close to signing long-term gas purchasing deals with Anglo-Russian crude producer TNK-BP worth up to $31 billion (19.5 billion pounds), the units said.

The deals may further undermine the position of Gazprom, Russia's top gas producer, on the domestic market. Gazprom has been losing share to its rivals, such as Rosneft, which is buying TNK-BP for $55 billion.

SABIC sets sights on US shale gas boom

Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) is considering investing in the United States to capitalise on the shale gas boom there, its chief executive told Reuters on Monday.

SABIC and other petrochemical producers in Saudi Arabia have been looking for additional gas supplies to fuel their expansion plans, with SABIC now casting its gaze overseas.

Royal Dutch Shell shuts down Nigeria oil pipeline

LAGOS, Nigeria — Royal Dutch Shell PLC says it has shut down a pipeline in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta after finding leaks it blamed on oil thieves.

In a statement Sunday, Shell said its Nigerian subsidiary shut down the Imo River trunk line which had six “theft points.” It said the shutdown of the line would cut production by about 25,000 barrels of oil a day.

Afghanistan shortlists 3 companies for oil project

KABUL, Afghanistan -- The Afghan government has shortlisted companies from Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey for a major oil and gas exploration project, a step in the country's quest to reap revenues from its vast untapped mineral and energy resources.

Why Filipinos should know their real history

Because we do not know the real US role in the imposition of martial law here, most of our people are still cheering the US as it seeks to find participation in the energy explorations in the South China Sea. We do not realize that we are cheering the US in their attempt to make our country the frontline of a US-China conflict. Because nobody is talking about the looming Peak Oil Crisis — that point when supply can no longer service the demand — Filipinos fail to appreciate why the US invaded Iraq when Saddam Hussein and Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack in New York City. It was all about the looming shortage of oil supply. Iraq has the world’s fourth largest oil reserves. Why is the US so hot in now targeting Iran? Iran has just as much oil as Iraq. Are you surprised that the US has been very active in the issues among territorial claimants in the South China Sea? Some experts are saying that the Peak Oil Crisis might start as early as 2015.

LIPA to restore last 80,000 NY power outages from Sandy on Tues

(Reuters) - The New York State-owned Long Island Power Authority expects to restore power by the end of Tuesday to most of the remaining 80,000 homes and businesses still without service two weeks after Hurricane Sandy battered the region.

Regulation & The Environment: Obama win notwithstanding, API thinks energy was an election winner

After spending millions of dollars to target the Obama administration’s handling of the oil and gas industry and to promote positions championed by Mitt Romney and Republicans in Congress, the American Petroleum Institute issued the following post-election verdict: we won.


LNG cost blowout hits Exxon partners

A $US3.3 billion cost blowout at the Exxon Mobil-led PNG LNG project has stoked fears a planned ''second wave'' of Australian LNG projects may struggle to gain approval.

Operator Exxon announced that the total project cost would increase 21 per cent to $US19 billion, although the project would remain on schedule for start-up in 2014. The biggest single factor was $US1.4 billion in foreign exchange costs.

A New Way to Foot Efficiency Upgrades

For commercial property owners in California looking to finance energy efficiency upgrades for their buildings, the process should be a bit easier and cheaper come early next year, thanks to a new pilot program approved last week by the state’s Public Utilities Commission.

Based on an “on-bill repayment” feature, the program would allow the property owner to avoid large upfront costs and instead pay for upgrades through regular installments on his utility bill.

Schumer warns insurers on hurricane deductibles

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- New York Sen. Chuck Schumer warned insurance companies Sunday against forcing hurricane deductibles on homeowners suffering in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

Can we soften future storm blows?

A top solution for us now, my New York developer friend Jonathan Rose insists, is "to recreate a wetlands barrier — the systems that protected our coasts for hundreds of thousands of years."

One New York study, in fact, suggests active steps to create an archipelago of islands and reefs to dampen storms currents. There's even a sliver of hope that water quality improvements begun after passage of the Clean Water Act could speed revival of the historical oyster reefs.

What's likely needed is a mix — both the big engineering projects such as sea barriers but also a range of environmentally friendly "soft" solutions.

Before and After Superstorm Sandy- USGS Releases Amazing pics.

Sandy almost cut a new inlet at Mantiloking NJ.

Expert calls for no further logging limits

A forest industry expert says there will be major ramifications if logging areas are restricted further but conservationists say WA could cash in on carbon credits if native logging is banned.

IEA World Energy Outlook: Fossil fuel subsidies jumped 30% to $523 billion in 2011

The International Energy Agency’s 2012 World Energy Outlook publication has highlighted the huge subsidies fossil fuels receive on an annual basis – here are the highlights:

Cut the power of fossil fuel

Until the world's fossil fuel companies become energy companies, their perks must go.

Arab youth call governments to take action against climate change

Activists in Cairo from the “Arab Youth Climate Movement” made a peaceful march across Kasr El Nil bridge and reached the Arab League headquarters on Saturday,November 10, 2012

They held a banner stating “Arabs; Take the lead!” referring to the need for Arab governments, in particular the government of Qatar, to exploit this golden opportunity and take leadership in international talks on climate change, given its geopolitical location, according to their press statement.

Poor nations dismayed by looming climate aid gap

OSLO/LONDON (Reuters) - Rich nations are dismaying developing countries with pledges merely to continue aid to help them combat climate change in 2013 despite past promises of a tenfold surge to $100 billion a year by 2020.

Factbox - The Green Climate Fund

(Reuters) - Many developing countries hope United Nations climate talks in Qatar later this month will make progress on scaling up finance to help them curb greenhouse gas emissions and cope with floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising sea levels.

Developed nations agreed in 2009 to raise climate aid, now about $10 billion a year, to an annual $100 billion from 2020.

'Groundwater inundation' doubles previous predictions of flooding with future sea level rise

Previous research has predicted that by the end of the century, sea level may rise 1 meter. Kolja Rotzoll, Postdoctoral Researcher at the UHM Water Resources Research Center and Charles Fletcher, UHM Associate Dean, found that the flooded area in urban Honolulu, Hawaii, including groundwater inundation, is more than twice the area of marine inundation alone. Specifically, a 1-meter rise in sea level would inundate 10% of a 1-km wide heavily urbanized area along the shoreline of southern Oahu and 58% of the total flooded area is due to groundwater inundation.

Re: Energy Independence and the Myth of Peak Oil

There are several articles in today's Drumbeat which suggest that there's no problem with Peak Oil. This one is probably the worst, since the author makes several glaring errors. But, don't worry, everything will be OK, we will surely see North American Energy Independence, just as Myth Romney promised. That in no way says that the US will recover oil fast enough to exceed the peak we enjoyed in 1970...

E. Swanson

The propaganda machine is really getting strong these days ... with Maugeri "report" for instance, and now this from the IEA

And let's be honest, a lot of it comes from a US push for sure, a good read about this, the study by Lionel Badal about the IEA, and especially what happened to the 1998 report team (Fatih Birol is the last remnant of this team) :

Does anyone else notice that the oil production prediction graph that is usually included in the exec summary isn't this year?

It's always been good for a laugh, usually with a flat horizontal line in there somewhere to give the lie to its creation, but this year - no graph.

The US is supposed to get an extra 4-5Mbpd of 'oil' by 2020, and Iraq is supposed to produce an extra 3Mbpd by 2020 and 5Mbpd by 2035 - which seems to account for most of the 'extra' that's predicted.

Reversing that out, they seem to be predicting an average increase in oil supply of 0.45% per year. Over the same period the total energy usage of the OECD is supposed to be virtually flat. Not good if you believe energy usage and economic growth are linked.

If anyone has access to the full report, it would be interesting to see if the total oil prediction makes any appearance at all, or if its been politely dropped.

It would also be interesting to see if someone from the fracking industry has got their claws into the IEA - they do seem to be promoting it as the saviour of everything recently...

I guess there still are some prediction graphs in the report itself, Stuart Staniford posted one on his blog for the US :


I can see that one in the slides, but no equivalent to

for this year.

Yes, they for sure have put themselves in a cul de sac more or less now ...
And they are not the only ones

The light blue area in the above figure is also known as "fantasy oil". It will interesting to see how we devise ways to operate modern society if our wishes don't come true due to events beyond our control, like running out of economically recoverable oil.

He conflated NGLs with oil. He conflated coal and gas with oil. He misstated King's 1970 call.

I think there's a case to be made that Peak Oil is not here, or not as destructive as the doomier Peak Oil forecasts, but this article is a mess.


There are several articles in today's Drumbeat which suggest that there's no problem with Peak Oil.

Leanan is just trying to keep us on our toes.

It is the sources of those stories that are trying to keep us asleep to what is really happening.

Please don't tell the captives?

There’s a similar commentary in today’s WSJ and their companion site, MarketWatch.

IEA Pegs U.S. as Top Oil Producer by 2020 (behind paywall)

The authors claim that “U.S. oil production has increased 7% to 10.76 million barrels a day”. They apparently don’t understand that this total includes natural gas plant liquids, lease condensate, refinery gains and ethanol production, in addition to crude oil. They further quote the IEA as writing:

“The result is a continued fall in U.S. oil imports (currently at 20% of its needs) to the extent that North America becomes a net oil exporter around 2030.”

However, the IEA’s Executive summary says this:

The United States, which currently imports around 20% of its total energy needs, becomes all but self-sufficient in net terms – a dramatic reversal of the trend seen in most other energy importing countries.

and the companion Fact Sheet say it this way:

“The United States, which currently imports around 20% of its total energy needs, becomes all but self-sufficient in net terms by 2035 thanks to rising production of oil, shale gas and bioenergy, and improved fuel efficiency in transport.” (emphasis added)

The authors missed the point not once, but twice. In short a very optimistic commentary, which perpetuates the idea widely circulated by Republicans during the campaign that the US will soon become energy independent. I thought the campaign was over, so maybe we could get back to reality...

E. Swanson

I thought the campaign was over, so maybe we could get back to reality...

The campaign is permanent. Now is the time th create the strawmen whose destruction will be part of the next election cycle propaganda. We woulda been energy dependent, but those feckless environmentalists didn't let us develop our resources, hence we are now 5million barrels per day below the target! Permoannet campaign, we only shift between campaign phases, but it never goes on holliday.

Wow! This morning I was watching Larry Kudlow (who has the IQ of a squirrel) chatting with someone about how much oil and gas the US has EXCEPT THAT the "EPA wants to make onerous regulations that will force us to leave good energy in the ground!"

They went through a little act of wailing, moaning, sighing......"if only" they said. Now, thanks to your comment I can see that it was another version of this theatrical posturing. Thank you.

Squirrels are quite smart, please do not insult them.


Uh, if some of it isn't left in the ground, doesn't that present a bit of a problem for future generations who might want some oil? Future generations may be glad that there is an EPA, assuming that it is actually true that EPA is going to significantly reduce production.

Correction: He has the intelligence of a seriously drug addicted squirrel, more like a squirrel on crack. Sober squirrels put nuts away for the winter, not something people like Kudlow would do.


"... perpetuates the idea widely circulated by Republicans during the campaign ..."

The Republican convention is telling:

The environment is getting cleaner and healthier. The nation’s air and waterways, as a whole, are much healthier than they were just a few decades ago. Efforts to reduce pollution, encourage recycling, educate the public, and avoid ecological degradation have been a success.

(New Drug Dealer - Same Addiction). Is it not obvious that much of the talk (about Oil-Qaeda) concerns which dealer has more of the drug, and is therefore to be revered?

I mean really, the talk is about who has most of the drug that we are addicted to, like having it at home is some sort of new found freedom.

The source of this growing rhetoric is the propaganda engines of The Private International Empire that has used the same tactics and the same strategy for a century or so.

The GOP is right. The nation's air and water are much, much cleaner than they were a few decades ago. Lead and sulfur concentrations have plummeted. Rivers that were too polluted for life - and some that even caught fire - actually have fish today.

Of course, we can thank the environment movement and pollution controls for that, which cause the GOP to rend their garments and wail. De-industrialization also helps: many of the dirtiest players simply moved to Third World dictatorships.

Links please (BTW "the nation's" is not global, whereas the environment is).

I guess that the sixth mass extinction is not part of their environment (except for Gov. Christie perhaps).

Sulfur dioxide concentrations in the US

Lead concentrations in the US

Ozone concentrations in the US

There are more at the EPA site, if you like. The environmentalist movement should take a bow: the improvement in the US air and water quality is immense. After bowing, they should kick the GOP in the ass for AGW denial.

(BTW "the nation's" is not global, whereas the environment is).

There's not a lot the US can do about pollution in other countries.

"The environmentalist movement should take a bow..."

...as should the corporations who sent much of their production (and it's inherent pollution) somewhere else.

Yes there is... we can, and should, enforce a strict tax on pollution from production of goods imported by the USA. It should be at least equal to the cost they are trying to avoid by off-shoring to countries where environmental regulations are lax or nonexistent. And, a similar tax to cover the safety regulation costs. As long as it is 'legal,' the Chicago School tells us to indulge our greed and avarice. The only way to have an impact is by regulation and making violations expensive, and preferably criminal. And, enforceable against the officers, directors and any shareholder holding more than 2% of the common stock! Maybe capital punishment? After all, they are killing innocent men, women and children.

More... we should require that all advertising of those products indicate the pollution created (as should US products) so that we may decide in an informed way which to purchase.

Of course, those more expensive products are going to be shunned by our people - after all, "Greed is good." That is why the tariff is needed, with criminal sanctions for continued violations.

So, what are the chances of that happening? Citizens United tells me, "nil."

Basically, we are screwed. But the perpetrators, and SCOTUS, can sleep well knowing it is 'legal.'


"we can, and should, enforce a strict tax on pollution from production of goods imported by the USA"

Those are called tariffs. And in the fine old days before the income tax, they were the source of most of the government's revenue.

the Chicago School tells us to indulge our greed and avarice.

Any 'schools' that don't pitch such?

I'm sure there are some fish who fear more of the same.

"There's not a lot the US can do about pollution in other countries."

History disputes that. We taught them how to pollute the Earth like real men.

Global is something Americans, who have been propagandized more than any other nation on the issue, cannot seem to fathom.

The oceans and atmosphere are global, like the global cycles we are damaging more and more.

This kind of thinking is why any global problem is not yet solvable.

Most people can't think that big yet, in terms of either solutions or problems.

It is not "their" problem, it is our problem, because we are a species.

Some worthy points about the first couple generations of recognized pollutants, and yet we are adding mountains more, with extremely hardy and potent chemical bonds that the natural world doesn't have any common ways or energy levels available with which to return them to just normal old 'dust'. Nowadays, it is this new Dust that never sleeps!

We have superplastics (my own jargon), with plasticizers and other additives showing up in films and microfiber remnants throughout the 7 seas.. dioxin and perchlorate, which are showing up in Breastmilk the world over are even a bit mundane now, as hundreds upon hundreds of new compounds are released every year.

The progress we've made is nice, as far as it goes, which isn't that far compared to the job at hand, sadly.

Actually, it depends on your definition of "the US". I agree that the US government can't do much about pollution abroad. But surely when Americans stop buying stuff made abroad, the factories will close there and the countries will get cleaner.

I live in Japan so I can see this happening. Japan basically "surfs" on the waves of the US economy. When the waves are high, with credit expanding, there gets to be a lot of industrial activity here. I have seen it. The US credit bubble leading up to 2008 was a case in point, the Americans were buying stuff: Toyotas etc. Actually back then I lived in the Tokyo area and I thought all the extra building and stuff going on was just horrible. Green fields by the million were bulldozed and turned into condos.

Now Japan gets into a new recession because everyone abroad indeed has no more money to buy stuff made here.

Obviously the situation is just getting worse and worse and nothing can be done until everyone capitulates and says "this is not working". But by the time that happens, many may have already started starving. I mean, people in Spain are already starving and cold, and yet it isn't making anyone change their ideas. So the Japanese could be next in line for "starving and cold" and no one will do anything. Until the Americans are finally starving and cold. Then I predict that the situation might undergo some sort of basic structural change in response.

I am surprised they did not include all the wood burning stoves, calories burned in gym workouts and extensive hot air from the Nation's Capitol! /sarc

No. The only thing we will get back to is alternate reality, the Republicans specialty. Even the illusion of more oil is a disaster since people behave based upon alternate reality, even if that alternate reality is not based in fact.

The NY Times, hardly a supporter of Romney, also reported the
"U.S. to Be World’s Top Oil Producer in 5 Years, Report Says"

In the print article they wrote that domestic oil production would rise 55 percent. In the corrected web article they wrote that 55 percent of the improvement would come from more oil production.

Not only are they off base the poor editing makes things look even rosier than they are, this delusion is in all facets of our country. Articles like this mean that when TSHTF fewer people will be prepared and more will suffer.

Articles like this mean that when TSHTF fewer people will be prepared and more will suffer.

umass82, you can see why people are confused when they hear these rosy projections.

How much credibility can Fatih Birol have at this point? First the IEA was making cornucopian predictions. Then he learned about peak oil and slashed back the oil production predictions. Now he learns about Bakken tight oil and goes back to cornucopian predictions. Now it is all well and good to change your predictions based upon new information. But his predictions swing so drastically that it seems to make them kinda pointless. Maybe next year he'll feel that water limits will curtail fracking growth and slash the growth in half. Who knows?

Why being so naive as to beleive he really has power as to what is written in this report ?

Have you read below ? :

The truth is that everybody around this stuff (or almost) knows about peak oil, but a direct message about it would crash the economy (or so it is beleived).

Now this year celebration of the "US energy rennaissance through shale gas and tight oil" is indeed something new, and could also be taken as some form of financial communication from US shale oil and gas firms somehow, in a way, who knows ...

I agree with Yves here. Birol has shown time after time that he say what he is supposed to (according tohis emplyer) and little what he think. (He want tokeep his job, and I rather have him there than one of the optimists.) If he quit his job tomorrow, he will come out as an oil pessimist. I promise you.

"he will come out as an oil pessimist."

I agree with you on that one, Jedi, but I disagree to some degree on your other points.
Repeatedly, Birol been stronger in his oral statements than the Agency has been in its written documents.
I think he deserves a good deal of credit: he is certainly knowledgeable and he speaks his mind, often beyond the official/formal Agency line.

Yes. The man is on a balance act I do not envy him of. One one hand he want to communicate what he realy believe. On the other hand he can not fully speak what is on his mind, if he want to stay in office. So he has to weigh his words very carefully to get the maximum amount of communication out and still keep his job. I am glad I am not Birol. And I am glad he is.

Nate Hagens says doomers are cowards!

Over the weekend I decided to watch some YouTube videos that I had already watched before. But the first time I watched this one I must have been half asleep for I completely missed something:
Nate Hagens - Navigating through a Room full of Elephants
It is otherwise an excellent video lecture but it has one short dialogue by Nate that I vehemently disagree with. Beginning at 37:48 into this YouTube video you will hear this:

So there definitely are some negative visions of the future and I think optimism is an evolved trait that we have. It suppresses – er – it boost helpful T cells and suppresses some negative stress hormones, et cetera, but I would say that I have come to view pessimism as a form of cowardice. I think pessimistic people try to lower the difference between their expectations and reality and in doing so it leaves them off the hook for action. So of course we all know there might be some Mad Max scenario in the future. I think it's a low percent chance, 10 percent, something like that. I am very pessimistic about our current economic system but I'm quite optimistic about the social web of society and the environment going forward. So there is a difference. We can be pessimistic or have our outlook toward something but still be looking for a better future.

It has never occurred to me to refer to either cornucopians or doomers as being either brave or cowards for the stance they take on the future of civilization as we know it. That is, I believe, a matter of reason, logic, or the lack of it, and not a matter of bravery or cowardice.

We are watching fisheries disappear from the ocean, deserts expand, tropical and subtropical forests disappear, topsoil blow and wash away, glaciers and ice caps melt and species going extinct faster than ever in the history of the earth. And the point is, even if Nate is correct and the "social web of society" does enable the human population continue to grow and prosper all this will just get even worse. Even though we are prosperous and successful we are still turning the planet into a sterile desert. We are still doomed even if Nate is correct!

This was a brilliant lecture by Nate except for the 1 minute and four seconds this dialogue took. That part was terrible, disgusting and just plain wrong. I bristle at having my entire argument dismissed by simply calling me a coward. And it reduces Nate's argument against us doomers to nothing more than an ad hominem attack. We deserve better.

Ron Patterson

I freely admit to being a coward.

Low expectations mean I'm rarely disappointed. But it is a rather timid way of living your life.

I have no expectations for my part in the long term future, I will be dead. But I have children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren who will live and die in the world we have created for them. Sometimes I just cry when I contemplate their future. The cowardly thing for me to do would be to simply deny the whole thing and become a cornucopian. I could simply believe that their lives would be better and more fruitful than mine has been. I could... if I were a coward.

But I am not saying that cornucopians are cowards. I think that the vast majority of people simply never give it more than a second thought. It is work to think very deeply about such things, so the easy thing is to just believe those whom, they think, are experts about the situation. And of course it is easy to tell just who the experts really are. They are the ones telling them what they really desire to believe.

Ron P.

I don't think it's correct to equate doomers and pessimists. (And I'm not sure that that's what Nate did. He did not in the bit you quoted.)

But I do think he's correct in that we evolved to be optimistic, because it's a pro-survival trait. It's not just humans, either. It seems to be a common trait for mammals, and possible other animals as well. Even if the situation seems hopeless, it's generally better to do something than nothing.

Note that doomers who are doing something - building a doomstead in the wilderness, say - are probably not pessimists. They may be pessimistic about society (as Nate says he is about the economic system), but are optimistic in that they believe what they are doing can change things, at least for themselves.

It is a real stretch to say that Nate was talking about pessimists and not doomers. It is very clear that this his comments were aimed at the doomer scenario, or scenarios because there are many of them:

So of course we all know there might be some Mad Max scenario in the future. I think it's a low percent chance, 10 percent, something like that.

The reference to Mad Max was clearly aimed at doomers. There is no question about that.

Yes, of course optimism is an evolved pro-survival trait. Almost all societies in the past lived in constant danger of an invasion from some neighboring tribe. If this was constantly on their mind it would have been overwhelmingly depressive. In order for life to continue they simply had to assume that it was not going to happen, or not immediately anyway. There were other necessities to survival that also had to be constantly maintained. If every effort involved defense or war they would have starved.

Read the Old Testament. Even if it is not a good history of actual events it is an excellent history of how people thought in those days. War with other tribes is a constant theme throughout. And when there was an invasion of a neighboring city they always killed "everything that breatheth".

Ron P.

'they always killed "everything that breatheth".'

Isn't that unusual? Don't "you" normally keep the women (and children?)?


Leanan: "But I do think he's correct in that we evolved to be optimistic, because it's a pro-survival trait. It's not just humans, either. It seems to be a common trait for mammals, and possible other animals as well. Even if the situation seems hopeless, it's generally better to do something than nothing."

I've noticed in watching videos of predators catching prey, ie the lion grabbing the impala, or wolves taking down an elk, etc, that invariably at a certain point in the battle, the eyes of the prey seem to glaze over and they look resigned to their fate, even while still upright and seemingly able to do battle. Also, it would seem, in the many recent news items of mass shootings, that the victims would have swarmed the shooter en masse, but for some reason they just don't.

Yes, I've noticed that with chickens, they only struggle at the beginning. Once they realise there is no escape they become calm and submit to their fate without further fuss. I think its a psychological or chemical reaction to reduce further distress and pain. Makes sense to stop the brain going nuts trying to make sense of the situation and searching for solutions when there are none.

When I was young, I fell out of a tree and got knocked unconscious, but not before weaving in and out of it as I was carried to the back seat of a car. I recall it being a rather pleasant experience, kind of dreamy, floaty, and then waking up in hospital with a sweet nurse over me.
It was another matter, on the other hand, with the people lugging me to the hospital and having to deal with the blood, etc..
And then the natural, and maybe artificial, tranquilizers wore off and I began to feel the stitches, etc..

"Doomers who are doing something" and then the extreme example of building a doomstead in the wilderness.... are definitely not pessimists as you say they are not. I think it is looking at the facts, seeing what can be done by one individual and laying the groundwork for family survival going forward. My 84 year old neighbour is a pessimist, if it isn't one thing it's another and the world is always going to end in doom and gloom. He tries to exude a sense of wisdom that he is one of the few that knows the true story and grasps reality as no one else can. Apparently, he has been echoing those sentiments for the 45 years he has lived here. He tells me the ling cod are all gone, but then I go out and get whatever I want depending on the tide. He says the fry are all gone in the river and I try to show him the hundreds hiding under my dock and he dismisses it as nonsense. This year we had more salmon spawn than we have ever seen, and that is according to my 75 year old buddy who has lived on the river since 1946. But the neighbour shakes his head and says it is all finished. It is almost as if he selectively funnels facts into his world view that we are all heading for the cliff. Kaput.

Maybe. Maybe we are. And maybe not.

Look at Sandy and the latest nor'easter back east. Those who were prepared did far better than those who were not prepared. A pessimist might have said, "what is the point" ? A doomer, even an apartment dwelling doomer would have water, candles, flashlights, extra food and blankets. It is easy to imagine folks laughing at the preparations their friends make as they gather supplies....calling them doom and gloom pessimists.

Like Ron, I sometimes get very scared for my kids and one grand daughter. But, I just put it out of my mind and go forward knowing they will have the woodlot, garden, and river if it all goes bad and I am no longer alive. I don't give up when I consider the facts, rather, I (we including my wife) lay down our own version of prudent preparations. Writing this I know that mindset comes from two events in my life. One, growing up hearing the stories from my Dad about the Great Depression in rural Minnesota; how they were poor and had no money but always had enough to eat. And then when I was in my early twenties and lost my job flying when the company tried to break out Union by breaking us. We survived; laid in the firewood, had the garden and some deer in the freezer, raised rabbits for meat and did cash construction jobs on the side all the while knowing we could be warm and have food. My pessimist buddy stopped shaving and wouldn't leave the house even when I showed up with the truck and chainsaw to go get him a load of wood. My wife grew up with parents who started with absolutely nothing...twice.

I agree with Nate on this and believe he is not talking about mindless cornucopianism, rather, has reached back into knowing many people will simply do their best no matter how futile it seems. It is indeed a pro-survival trait. Besides, chances are it is still more fun and better to be alive than dead, or to quote the old Simon and Garfunkle line...."I'd rather be a hammer than a nail".


"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan.

We will all die. But,

"Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once."

-William Shakespeare

My Dad was a pessimist, but emphatically not a coward. He lived of course well before thoughts of Peak Oil, and rather curiously was not fazed by growing nuclear arsenals; he rather believed in "experts" and what we Brits called "boffins". I suppose in those terms he could have been seen as an "optimist", or "denialist", compared with a better informed and concerned 'Ron-type', or even a 'Nate-type'. But for most life issues his pessimism allowed him to be right 60:40, and I guess that cheered him up quite a bit and rather reinforced his position.

Let me make a couple of comments as one of TOD's established doomers. I'm not going to repost stuff from the last 6+ years of posts - I'll make it simple:

1) I'm old like Ron and have looked at the data and "facts" and expect a fast crash/shark fin collapse.

2) My view of the future is no longer flexible because, being old, I don't have the time to be "flexible". I was forced to make a choice; wrong or right. I made this choice years and years ago.

3) I'm in for myself and my family and friends. I do not believe society will be saved by my actions. I do make an effort to help others via my Updates and through my Grange (The Grange Center for Self-Reliance which I initiated). What they do is up to them.


Hi todd: Haven't been here for a while and it good to see you are still kicking.

I see Nate's statements about the "Mad Max" senerio as to be about 'extreme doomer'. If you have seen the movie, it is extreme. And I also doubt Greer's rather calm fading into the sunset with an ecotech future holding hands again, kum bye ya, into the 70's.

The fact that we live on a finite planet sets the parameters. "Prediction is difficult especially about the future." About the only thing we can do is be positive about what we do, do the best we can with what we have and don't be particularly surprised when you are wrong ... adjust and try again. Nearing 80 I refere often to the last paragraph of Ulysses:

"Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

IMHO it is going to be hell-to-pay and the devil gets the hindmost. Just don't be the hindmost!

Have a good day fellow doomers.


I would like to take Grange Hall 306 in the direction you initiated. Can I hear more about it?

Signed up here just to ask.

Have loved the reasoned debate here.

Garden Seed (and any other Grangers who are interested),

You can contact me at: detz2 at willitsonline dot com

I'm in Laytonville Grange 726 in Mendocino County, CA.


We evolved and are wired (and have also simply learned) to be lots of things, including both optimistic and deeply conservative/pessimistic at one and the same time. For rather good circumstantial reasons, we generally fear and avoid big changes, with the expectation that favoring stasis will continue to work. Hence, I find it quite silly to rely on what we're "wired for" as some kind of full explanation of how things will unfold in the future.

Meanwhile, none of that ought to ruin Nate's excellent and powerful point that excessive pessimism is a form of avoidance and laziness. The odds of survival are certainly not zero, and so long as they are not zero, we are obliged to try to save our bacon by expanding the existing and potential reasons for optimism.

Looking at it from a biological viewpoint I think everything becomes clearer. We are behaving exactly like any other species which has discovered a new and abundant food resource (fossilized carbon in our case). Exploit it to the limit, then crash. This must be a successful strategy because you see it over and over. The viewpoint of biologists who have studied this would be useful, but from what I've read such populations grow rapidly until they are stressed from overcrowding or resource competition, then the growth rate slows dramatically (which we are starting to see). But this is too little too late as the entire system is now very unstable with almost no room for error. Some minor black swan-type event invariably happens and the whole thing comes crashing down.

But we haven't crashed! We may crash, certainly, but it has not happened yet. It is a possibility, not an existing fact. I almost wonder if you are trying to prove Nate's point here...

I would hereby extend Nate's thesis to add that one all-too-common form of excessive pessimism and passivity is exactly this kind of reduction of human beings to merely another colony of organisms. One sees this trope all over the green blogosphere, TOD definitely included. Homo sapiens is an animal of a singular sort. Who doesn't know and account for that?

People were eminently resourceful as always in dealing with Hurricane Sandy. Communities, relatives and friends helped each other out. Community organizations of all sorts like schools, libraries, YMCA's and other community groups offered light, power, heat, recharging to those without power and Internet where it was still up. Occupy Sandy dove in to help people at the Shore. Nobody in my neighborhood now denies Climate Change! But the realization of the criticality of Peak Oil, Limits to Growth and Auto Addiction as problems for both Climate Change and Peak Oil is another story. Longterm change is a lot tougher vs a few week crisis.

But there are interesting straws in the wind. The NY Times had an article in the Sunday Review about the benefits of a return of hitchhiking! That is why I do not give up hope although I do not think it will be easy. Auto Addiction, its sprawl and all its prior investment is very hard to kick. So EASY to just walk out to the driveway, put in some tunes and cruise to wherever you wanna go without consulting a transit schedule or sweating on a bike or walking...

I don't think it's correct to equate doomers and pessimists.


I recently plodded through Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. Frankl spent 3 years in Nazi concentration camps. While locked up, he noticed that prisoners fell into one of two groups.

In the first group, people succumbed to bitterness and despair. In the second, they found something to live for, a task to be fulfilled:

[For one prisoner,] it was his child whom he adored and who was waiting for him in a foreign country. For [another prisoner,] it was a thing, not a person. This man was a scientist and had written a series of books which still needed to be finished. His work could not be done by anyone else, any more than another person could ever take the place of the father in his child's affections.

Both groups were doomers. But only the second group remained "brave, dignified and unselfish."

This thread has drifted considerably from my original post. All doomers are pessimists but all pessimist are not doomers. That should be obvious to anyone. However...

Nate was clearly talking about doomers when he used the word pessimists instead. He talked about Mad Max scenarios and when anyone does that they are unmistakably talking about doomers. That also should be obvious to anyone.

So Nate was most definitely talking about doomers when he said pessimists were cowards. I think that point is settled.

Ron P.

Well, I think you don't need to cry for your children or grandchildren. No, even in economic misery, someone will find an old guitar and start to play it, someone will get ahold of a few old sweet potatoes, a few people will sing softly while they make a fire out of something (what? the old furniture?) to cook them.....

You are wrong to think that everything will be worse. Economically things will be worse. But in other ways, people may discover new ways of helping each other and sharing what little they have. Poor people often share. They have so little that helping someone this time means that someone might help them next time. And that's a calculation that will hold. Rich people think they need no help, so they can be selfish.

Of course things will be much better. Just look at the pictures at this link and tell me how much better off these people are. They all look so happy. Images from the Great Depression

And then we were a nation with only 25 percent unemployment. Imagine how much happier everyone will be with the unemployment at 50 percent. And they will get a little happier each month as the unemployment continues to climb.

And then they will get even happier as states and counties can no longer afford to pay their police force and law and order breaks down. I could go on and on but you get the idea. Wheeee... we are in for a real thrill.

Great De

Ron P.

That cartoon need more pixels.

America 2018

Dad: Yes kids, ten years ago we were freaked out if a politician didn't wear a flag lapel pin and fearful of _ strangers boarding airplanes.

Mom: Nobody was worrying about the country's $48 trillion debt.

Son: Was that back when people lived in houses?

"swarthy" strangers.

They have so little that helping someone this time means that someone might help them next time. And that's a calculation that will hold. Rich people think they need no help, so they can be selfish.

You mean like the folks who put up this sign?


Ron P.

"The Grapes of Wrath" If you haven't read it lately, read it again. Truly a great novel. And as great novels are, it is very relevant to today, and also (energy and) our future.

The buses were on strike yesterday. The police were picking people up as a service, the water company was doing the same, people with pickups were calling out to people walking to see if they needed a ride - but not the ones in the big, shiny, fancy, tricked out, air conditioned palaces on wheels - just those in the old beat up pickups.


I have low expectations, too; but I'm a Slacker, not a Coward.
I can get along with Cowards, though. Same pew, different service.

There;s a difference between "low" expectations and "unrealistic" ones.

He has it exactly backwards. The cowards are those who live in a growth at any cost lifestyle because "we will figure something out". Recognizing reality does not in any way stop many people from still trying to solve the problems. Cowardice lies in continuing to further shaft every creature on this planet because we are so optimistic about solving any problems. I myself just refuse to be blind-sided by trying to ignore the reality of what is coming.

I'm sure we would all agree that labeling any group with a one-size-fits-all tag is pointless. Both the optimistic and pessimistic sides can be broken down into two similar main groups IMHO. Each has the "I studied and understand the situation" group. Right or wrong each of these groups has studied the situation and based on different assumptions/interpretations has come up with different visions of the future. And both the P's and O's contain the second group. Cowards would not be my first choice of tags for them. Maybe some form of fearful-ignorant-procrastinator (FIP) tag would be better. They don't really understand the facts and won't or can't investigate any deeper on their own. So they latch onto which ever "thoughtful" P and O group they are drawn to. Why they are drawn to one or the other doesn't really matter IMHO. I think we've all been there when some FIP made some foolish statement attempting to support a position we hold. All you can think is "Please don't try to help us". LOL.

And while many of the thoughtful P's and O's forcefully defend their positions we have all seen the P and O FIP's fight for their positions just a ferociously. One aspect that separates TOD from most such discussion sites IMHO is that both thoughtful sides are welcome to wave their banners. Debates will rage but will a fair amount of politeness. OTOH when a dogmatic P or O FIP shows up they tend to not be treated very kindly. I don't want to put words into Nate's mouth but perhaps he was envisioning the pessimistic FIP's when he made his statement. Maybe not. But I think many here react sharply when a FIP from the other side of one's particular fence shows up. Just human nature I suppose. We can appreciate a thoughtful but erroneous position. FIP's...not so much.

He has it exactly backwards. The cowards are those who live in a growth at any cost lifestyle because "we will figure something out". Recognizing reality does not in any way stop many people from still trying to solve the problems. Cowardice lies in continuing to further shaft every creature on this planet because we are so optimistic about solving any problems. I myself just refuse to be blind-sided by trying to ignore the reality of what is coming.

if you follow his line of thinking it is not the pessimism of it self but rather the excuse for inaction... ultra-cornucopians who believe in the technological singularity also possess this do nothing attribute and too a lesser extent BAU marketeers.

I actually share similar sentiments with NH, if I was being critical I think his brush is somewhat thick.

I am struck how it has touched a nerve which is often a good thing as it causes us to check our biases.

One good thing about doing nothing is that you are not likely to screw it up. Some people, anything they touch turns to caca, so if you are one of those, please leave things along. An Officer Effectiveness Report I once read said, "This is a fine young officer who will go through life pushing on doors that are plainly marked PULL."

It is going to take a WHOLE lot of people working together to solve our energy situation in the world, not just a few "optimists".

Our main problem is inaction NOW. That is not caused by a few pessimists, but a WHOLE lot of apathetic people that think someone else will take care of it.

As long as gasoline is available for their cars at the stations for an affordable price, no action will be taken. The politicians realize this and so do the oil companies.

I am struck how it has touched a nerve which is often a good thing as it causes us to check our biases.

Of course it takes a strong courageous person to check ones own biases...

If you learn of something and your reaction is a flash of anger you can be fairly sure that there is a fear in your subconscious that is running amuck.

There is cognitive dissonance to consider...

I am such a person. I can prove it because I have changed views in A LOT of areas over the last 20 or so years. And I can inform you that beeing such a person is not fun. Finding a hole in your world view in an area that you used to define who you are for years untill now, is not fun. It hurts. It can be a process of dieing, before you come back to life again. People who have gone through the Peak Oil death experience know what I am talking about. But also, sometimes it is the other way around, and you find you were wrong and the new stuff is much better and you finally get free. I have had a few of those to.

I believe strongly that many people chose to keep on to their belief in order to not have to take the huzzle and pain of letting go of them. I have let go so many times I am used to it now, and quickly adapt to the new realyties. But there has been times where I deliberately chosed to not get informed when I calculated the pain/reward ratio was to low.

Cowardice lies in continuing to further shaft every creature on this planet because we are so optimistic about solving any problems.

I would describe it as self-involvement to the point of not caring what happens to others and in particular what happens to other species and habitats. If human consciousness cannot evolve to understand and value the inter-connectedness between all lifeforms (including people), then it seals its fate for this empire - presumably with another springing up later in time, but on a much lower scale and level of energy consumption.

In other words the world is a feedback system. Fail to value it by abusing it, then lose what you have and later have something that is much less materialistically, yet one that requires greater interconnectedness because it is necessary for survival.

It seems that humans love ease, comfort and prestige. You can ratchet these up, but reducing them, even a little, seems to be positively painful for most people. Look at the resentment even limited rationing during wartime causes. And look at how in the west people have cut back on the birth rate to maintain their lifestyle. The instinct for luxury and prestige seems to be that powerful. To expect that huge numbers of people are going to voluntarily, drastically reduce their consumption is a fantasy.

I agree that Nate may have missed something fundamental in his comment. I've always associated the duality of bravery/cowardice as they may apply in situations where an individual is threatened with bodily harm or death. Being brave on the football field is different from being brave in battle. I don't think that duality applies to those of us who are doomers, that is, very pessimistic. I'm a doomer because I don't see how Nate's "social web of society" will agree to make the necessary changes to share the burden(s) which many of us think are to arrive as the result of the twin problems of Peak Oil and Climate Change.

Nate's "social web of society" only functions when most people agree to support that social construct. History tells us that there have been many instances during which the prevailing social construct falls apart and that the results are often very painful. Here in the US, life has been more-or-less comfortable since the Civil War 150 years ago, that is, no wars and mass killings in North America (disregarding the Indian Wars). Living within the resulting society since WW II, it would seem reasonable to think that things would likely continue as before, but there's no guarantee of that prospect. Excessive optimism (call it Bravery) may simply be a sign of ignorance. Rather like Alan Greenspan's decades of insistence that unregulated Free Markets will solve all economic problems, which he later had to admit to be seriously wrong. His efforts to deregulate the financial industry may have been the central cause of our present hangover from the resulting housing bubble, a situation which still threatens the US as the power of the financial industry's "too big to fail" banks remain unchecked...

E. Swanson

I agree with you to a large extent Ron and thanks for reminding us. Nevertheless, I will perhaps try to cheer you up with this that I just found out about myself. It may not be able to make very much of an impact in time. You may find it a bit kooky. Also not sure if you already know about this kind of thing already:


Farming may hold the key but we're going to have to get started on this pronto to see how it might work.

Good link, thanks. Here in the High Desert, the harvest is in, clear and 15F at night.

Lynford, you state you've returned to TOD after taking a break. I've been around on and off for a long time. I just started posting and it is ok so far but the community isn't afraid of challenging you and that is an interesting experience. Rather different than not registering and not posting but following everything casually.

Of course there is nothing simple about living in a world that has leveraged itself 6 times on oil and now has to scramble to come down off of it probably in short order.

But who's saying when the kink happens? I'm not and it doesn't matter to me if it was in 2006 or if it will be in 2025. To me it's about helping shape a world I'd want to live in when I'm no longer here. That is though when I'm not in the dumps or lashing out against others with somewhat the right intentions who try to dominate communities and push others out (that's politics and it will always be so).

If you haven't read any of my posts before this one you'd know I'm not near any deserts. At least it hasn't yet turned into a desert here yet. But the Savory story intrigues me enough to consider going to a desert or drier part of the earth and seeing it in action and maybe investing in a project some day. It'd be a different experience than hanging around in this country chatting and debating with a bunch of people who are just getting around to the predicament we are facing. And once a year converting the vegetation in another traffic island in town with an permaculture project with a few edible fruits and veg.

I'm en-route out of here again. At almost 80, I don't have time to pick nits. I got the message years ago so I'm more of a prepper than a PO kinda guy.

I think pessimistic people try to lower the difference between their expectations and reality and in doing so it leaves them off the hook for action. Snip... I am very pessimistic about our current economic system

So does that make Nate a coward and leave him of the hook with regards trying to change our current economic system? I think it just explains why he no longer does what he used to do. He probably thinks that was the courageous thing to do.

I'm quite optimistic about the social web of society and the environment going forward. So there is a difference. We can be pessimistic or have our outlook toward something but still be looking for a better future.

While I personally have serious doubts about the state of the environment going forward (I'm with Darwinian on that)and how that may or may not, affect certain social webs, I have also had enough positive experiences with people to be able to maintain a modicum of optimism that people can and do change on a personal level and that paradigm change is also possible.

I also readily admit that I am quite pessimistic overall and think that the simple fact that I still try to make people who I come in contact with aware of my perspective takes quite a bit of courage. If I were a coward I'd either just go with the flow or shut up and go live in a cave somewhere. That's a heck of a lot easier...

I know words and their meanings are very important but maybe we are just quibbling over semantics here?

In any case, perhaps Nate will show up to clarify what he means. Having followed him for a while now, I'm more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt!

The survivalist type of doomer is not so much driven by pessimism as by a quest for autonomy. It is the attitude of my father when he very reluctantly replaced the pump jack on our farm well with a submersible pump -- he gave up the ability to reattach the pump handle and pump water by hand, and he became dependent on the REA (although with a huge stock tank in the hayloft to ride through outages).

We have a hand pump a few feet above the submersable and a solar motor connected to the hand pump so I can supply the whole neighborhood @130 GPH in event of electrical failure. Bring your own bucket :-)

Lynford (or anyone else)

I've asked the pump guys if they know where I can get a traditional hand pump which would sit on top of our well casing so that I can hand-pump water when the power goes out.
So far I've drawn a blank.

Ours is a shallow well (the foot valve is at 53' as I recall) with a jet pump, not submersible.

Does anyone know of a manufacturer?

"Superman sucking on a straw"

Edit: Realized this made sense to me but might not to everyone else. Just a warning that you cannot draw water from a depth greater than about 32 feet with a surface vacuum pump. "Vacuum" is a bit of a myth, as it is the pressure of the atmosphere (~14psi) that you're asking to do the work. Once the weight of the column of water is greater than the force working to push it up (~14psi) - it stops, even if it's a straw with Superman on the other end, and that's about 32 feet. It should be a little more, but dissolved gasses will start to "boil" out of it around then.

Does anyone know of a manufacturer?


If water is less than 350 ft down: You need four basic components to raise water from these depths.
1) The pump-head is the part you see above ground and provides the pumping action. Ours work on any well (dug or drilled). Some can be used with windmills.
2) The cylinder is the heart of the system. It contains the valves and leathers or seals that provide the lift. Place in well below water level. Most work best with a foot valve. The cylinder you choose must fit into your well casing.
3) The drop pipe extends from the pump to the cylinder. We recommend galvanized steel or PVC (Plastic). (Steel is the traditional favorite, but plastic is less expensive, much lighter and will never rust.)
4) The pump rod runs from the pump to the cylinder inside the drop pipe. It provides the linkage that transfers the pumping action from pump-head to cylinder.

Sorta odd to read this. Reminds me how old I am. When I was a kid EVERYBODY had a hand pump, and you could buy the leather seals in any hardware store. I have worn out several in the 50 yrs I have lived here. Old shoe leather works, but the waxed heavy cups work much better.

50 feet is easy, that's what my well is. 300 ft and you are gonna have to put some serious force on the handle- unless you make a small cylinder, of course.

Don't forget possibility of a PV panel and a small electric motor. And also don't forget collecting rain off roof, big plastic storage tank above ground, all wrapped in cast-off packing material so it won't freeze. This gives a little positive pressure all the time w/o pump.

BTW, Q to all, Where's a site where I can dump all my great ideas for simple tech for an easy life while everybody else is madmaxedout? Totally free of charge, and sometimes free of worth.

Where's a site where I can dump all my great ideas for simple tech for an easy life while everybody else is madmaxedout?

I recommend starting your own blog at Blogger. It's free, and really simple. It's easy to categorize your posts using key words, and since it's part of Google, the search function is pretty good. Also being part of Google, they're likely to stay in business. That might not be true for the various peak oil, pioneer living, and survivalist sites.

Tumblr is the hot new platform, but it's for microblogging - short posts that probably won't be enough to illustrate larger projects. There's also Wordpress, but the learning curve is a bit steeper there, and they don't have Google's bankroll. I think Blogger will suit your needs just fine.

Thanks for all the good suggestions, folks, I think I will go with Leanan's, who if anybody, has gotta know the web.

And I like a mod of Fred's title wimbisworkingwidgets- suggesting that I have in fact checked them out. A subcategory is wimbisnotworkingyetwidgets, far larger and more fun.

you will find stirling designs in both categories, the working ones usually with big$, and the others, real cheap-almost worthless, you might say.

And can I sell ya on a tide-driven hydraulic ram, only a couple of kilometers long?

Patents? I have a bunch of them, all either VERY old or worthless for real reasons. I am against patents, but was forced to do them under torture,

Wimbi: you may also want to contact John Michael Greer, since he's been putting some effort into distributing 1970's appropriate technology via some web sites - check out his "Green Wizardry" project. At the least he should link to your site when you set one up.

Edit: I see ghung (below) beat me to it, and included a link:

Maybe the guys from below site would be interested with some as well :

Interesting sub thread. I'm glad I've been reading TOD since Sandy. A lot of practical advice. I live about 24 meters above sea level but not that far from a few big rivers. Everything is different, the infrastructure of the country you live in etc. So there is some customization necessary for any planning. Good to contrast Mad Max and simple tech. I feel much more inclined to prepare with simple tech than for any great societal breakdown.

I'm not hoping for too many catastrophes, but I like reading about simple solutions to common problems right here on TOD. Most of us recognize that the resources will not be there for govts to help everyone on time, that a bit of preparation can spare a lot of grief, so that the benefit to cost ratio is quite favorable. Most people reading the oil drum realize how the heavy lifting is done now and are thinking about how this will have to be done in the future.

I hope common sense ideas still find a place here!

Don't forget possibility of a PV panel and a small electric motor.

That would be my first choice...

BTW, Q to all, Where's a site where I can dump all my great ideas for simple tech for an easy life while everybody else is madmaxedout?

Umm, how about www.wimbisgreatideas.com >;-)

Don't forget the possibility of a windmill. When I was a kid, we had a windmill on the farm, connected to the well. After we got electricity, my father installed an electric motor so we could get water any time we wanted, but most of the time, when the wind blew, the windmill pumped water into the stock watering tank for the cattle. That was its main purpose.

The well also had a pump handle on it so we could get water even if the electricity was out and the wind didn't blow. We had all the possibilities covered. It was actually quite simple and easy to maintain.

My friend Brian is in the water distribution business, he's a System Operator at a large water co.
We went camping in McCain Valley (California) and I was showing him the water system in the campground, when he saw the windmill he had a "Golly! How does that thing work?" moment. Unbelievable.

Sunny and eighty degrees today....


Those Aermotor windmills look just exactly like the windmill we had on our farm. Everybody had them because we didn't get electricity until mid-century, and even then farmers couldn't afford to bring in electricity to all their cattle pastures.

They're simple and effective. Not exactly Rocket Science. Hand pump optional for people who can't wait for the wind to blow.

It's sunny and 0 C (32 F) today - a virtual heat wave compared to what we've had recently.

re: free web site

If you want your posts to be like a diary/journal, perhaps try livejournal dot com

Disclosure: I use LJ, and like them.

The problem I have with LiveJournal it's extremely disconnected from the rest of the net. A very closed and somewhat isolated community. Though some see that as a feature, not a bug.

I respect your opinion.

When I google 'mrflash818' I find google indexes and shows my LJ public posts easily and at good ranking, so do not agree they are 'disconnected' by my own criteria.

That's a rather unusual search term, and not one someone who does not know you would use.

LiveJournal's isolation isn't my opinion. It's been measured.

"Where's a site where I can dump all my great ideas for simple tech for an easy life while everybody else is madmaxedout?


If you are talking about a basic suction pump, the depth you can pump from is limited by atmospheric pressure to around 7m (23 feet).

We have a Simple Pump living on our well, in tandem with the traditional submersible AC pump. Plan is to eventually acquire a DC motor and PV panels to run the Simple Pump. Water at about 75 ft.

Smiley face

Mine is a Simple Pump. Look here: www.simplepump.com You will find everything you need. This is a pricey option but it is solid stuff. The new solar motor is 24VDC and that is probably better than my 12VDC. My setup is just a 130W pannel, charge controller, and 12V 200AMP deep cycle battery. It will run all day in the sun and the battery will last well into the next AM before the charge controller cuts it off at 10.5V.

My temporary solution, as yet untested, for water supply during power outage is a small pump designed for sampling wells. It's about 2 inches in diameter and came with a 100-foot-long cable and stiff plastic pipe, all for under $300. The idea is to lower it into the well alongside the existing pipe and cables, if and when needed. It runs on 12VDC. My well is 200 feet deep, but the water level is usually less than 100 feet down AFAIK. This would work for drinking water but not a shower. For toilet flushing a bucketful from the roadside ditch (or gutterspout when it rains) will do. And of course I keep some jugs of clean water, and some bucketfuls, on hand at all times.

Eventually I plan to replace the submersible pump (230VAC, 3/4HP, something like 6000 watts surge to start up) with a model that can run off my PV system's inverter (Grundfos SQ (?) soft-start 115VAC 1/2HP). I've been reluctant to throw away the existing pump while it's still good. It's 17 years old now, is it time?

Pessimism requires an acknowledgement that there is a downside that must be responded to; a stimulus which requires courage to be made use of.

Doomerism and optimism aren't mutually exclusive traits. Doomerism is born of situational awareness. Optimism is that which allows/prompts us to respond to that situation. There's a difference in being screwed and being less screwed ;-/

As traits, extreme optimism and extreme pessimism must be unhelpful; isn't it pathological to just hope it will all work out or to assume nothing at all can be done?

But realistic optimism and pessimism is different altogether. They are usually a state, not a fixed trait. Usually about a specific issue (e.g., Feed 10 billion - Nope, Increase social resilience - Possible). Often derived from an observation, not framing how we first perceive an event.

The local food movement might be an example. Twenty years of slogging it out, with no help from the feds or corporations, many setbacks. Yet folks seem more optimistic about the possibility of local food security than 20 years ago.

Reading almost anything by Gene Logsdon is a good way to see what dwelling at the point of realistic optimism/pessimism sounds like.

Your point is so good. Extremes of all types can be said to be generated by excessive energy use levels.
Extremely rich and extremely poor. Slums and palaces.
Extreme optimism (eradicate cancer! live on Mars! the greatest nation in the history of the world!) and extreme pessimism (no more cars! everyone starves in 3 days! the oceans are dead!).
Extreme beauty with money and Hollywood pampering, and extreme ugliness with obesity lifestyles and Walmartization.
Extreme education with complexity galore, plugged in everything and extreme ignorance (what is a seed? which way is north?)
It is good to think that as we shake off the riches of oil we will also shake off the poverty, racism, greed, wild hopes and fears that have also been generated by fossil fuels.
We may become more stoic, more practical, less naive, less likely to listen to strangers who would like to turn a nearby forest into a nuclear power plant.

Ron, I agree with you 100 % .Nate (I respect his views) is wrong . " Only in a world of infinite resources can men live as brothers " We are guided by the 5F emotions or call it what you will Food,Fear,Fight or Flight and F*** just like animals .The point is, that as long as there was Cheap and Abundant energy these fears were subjugated (occasionally rising like in Rwanda and in Yugoslavia),but once it is evident to all that we have hit the wall watch us return to our animal survival instincts and will be at each other throats .

" Only in a world of infinite resources can men live as brothers "

I disagree, I feel that there is another factor, a mindset issue that is the main driver. We live in a world with a dominate mindset bias toward a competitively driven society. Now within that bias you are correct but there is another option. With a change to a cooperate group mindset we could live in peace on a finite world.

With a change to a cooperate group mindset we could live in peace on a finite world.

Ayn Rand would be rolling over in her grave so hard it would cause a magnitude ten earthquake.

You are free to disagree.The point is very simple . Five people ,five toilets .All is OK . Five people four toilets ,we are in trouble . We humans are nothing but animals who learned to walk erect,devolped a moveable thumb and a bigger brain, minus these we are like animals who respond only to the 5F emotions which are Food, Fear,Fight , Flight and F*** . These have remained subjugated(except occasionally in say Rwanda,former Yugoslavia) over the last 200 years thanks to the availabilty of Cheap and Abundant energy . When we are on the down slope expect these to rise back with a vengeance .There is no escape .I have seen older men trample children for a bottle of water and a packet of biscuits in India during a drought . Like Maggie Thatcher said to Reagen " You ain't seen nothin yet ".

Well hey, I was just going to skim and not comment today due to insufficient sleep. Theory, meet real world.

This was a brilliant lecture by Nate except for the 1 minute and four seconds this dialogue took. That part was terrible, disgusting and just plain wrong. I bristle at having my entire argument dismissed by simply calling me a coward. And it reduces Nate's argument against us doomers to nothing more than an ad hominem attack. We deserve better.

Calling this an "ad hominem attack" against "us doomers" is a far reach. When I listened to the lecture, I took it as a rejection of the nihilistic detachment and self-serving fatalism with which many of us absolve ourselves of responsibility to get our hands dirty. (That's not a swipe at you, Ron, I get that you're old & worn out. Not everyone is.)

Nate has a large and accessible body of work, highly recommended reading. Anyone who wants to know what he actually thinks has only to read it. Some great stuff there.

I'm VERY conscious of the luxury of typing in a quiet room versus speaking into an open mic. Perhaps some of the rest of you are too.

My own point, fairly frequently stated here, is that resort to what I have called the "nihilism heuristic" is a self-indulgence that humans in general do not deserve to employ, having kicked off processes that have a mass extinction underway and that could depopulate the world of large extant life-forms perhaps including ourselves.

My posts can be pretty dark. Nevertheless, I'm not a pessimist; I have been a career activist crusading against seemingly impossible situations. That certainly must be optimism. However, my worldview is anchored in the same depressing reality described by Ron, and has been for nearly 40 years.

I am still attempting to affect things, despite being old & kinda sick. Not because I expect to always or even usually succeed, but because all dooms are not equivalent, despite any narrative psuedo-logic to the contrary. That is part of the "nihilism heuristic": the conflation of all future outcomes past a certain arbitrary & subjective level of "bummer-ness" . Pretty much ALL outcomes of the current situation will suck badly compared to the world I was born into, much less the natural world of 1000 years earlier. However, the outcomes are not equivalent. A world without hummingbirds and dolphins is worse than a world which only loses one set of species. A world in which human children can ponder the stars 10,000 years from now is probably better than one in which they don't exist. Even if terrible prices have to be paid in the meanwhile in effort and sacrifice.

Humans may survive and live in balance and with some happiness, or face extinction in an anthropogenically-triggered hell. There are many ways to react to this increasingly-well-established set of facts. I simply think that "giving up" does not make any reasonable cut.

So I endorse Ron's existential angst - and entirely share it - and also endorse what I think Nate is getting at: that all bad futures are not equivalent, and that the course things take may be, and should be, steered. And if we fail, and by failing lose valuable time which could have been spent rending our clothing and shaking our fists at the sky, well then that's our loss.


and good lecture, Nate.

Optimism and pessimism are so limited- evolve beyond this!

We did evolve beyond this. We are called doomers. Though it cannot be denied that we are also pessimists when the future of civilization as we know it is concerned. ;-)

Ron P.

Optimistically-speaking of course. ;)

Calling this an "ad hominem attack" against "us doomers" is a far reach.

Nonsense: ad ho·mi·nem - adjective - attacking an opponent's character rather than answering his argument. Calling a man a coward is purely an attack upon his character and nothing more. Calling him a coward instead of answering his argument is the very epitome of an ad hominem argument. There could not possibly be a better example of an ad hominem attack. True he did explain why he thought we were cowards. But he did that instead of answering our argument. We are cowards because we are slackers who want to take no action and just want off the hook. That does not even attempt to answer the pessimistic's argument.

I said: This was a brilliant lecture by Nate except for the 1 minute and four seconds this dialogue took. I agree with the gist of your post. Nate has a great body of work and has contributed greatly to the knowledge base of peak oil. But no one is perfect, we all make mistakes and sometimes we make real whoppers. This was a great lecture with only one real whopper of a mistake.

Most of us on this list are pessimist as far as the future of civilization is concerned. However there is not a person on this list whom I world refer to as a coward, not even those who see humanity surviving pretty much intact. I think they are wrong but they are not cowards to my way of thinking. Their problem, as I see it is that their reason is influenced far too much by wishful thinking. That is a problem most all of us have, but some are far more subject to letting wishful thinking influence their reason than others.

And it was a good lecture Nate, except for one whopper of a mistake.

Ron P.

attempt to answer the pessimist's argument

The best counter to it might be found in evolutionary biology. Look at how both competition and cooperation drive evolution. When resources are flush competition creates quick results. When resources become scarce then cooperation allows survival through stability.

Hi again Ron. I reckoned I should check back late in the day since I figured you'd have something to say about what I had to say.

Let me preface this by saying I'm quite fond of you & 99.5% of your input to the TOD forum, which I hope you know. I just have an ongoing bone to pick with your 'aggressive futilitarianism' thing.

I'll give you the last shot though; as ever, you have more energy for it than I.

Nonsense: ad ho·mi·nem - adjective - attacking an opponent's character rather than answering his argument. Calling a man a coward is purely an attack upon his character and nothing more. Calling him a coward instead of answering his argument is the very epitome of an ad hominem argument. There could not possibly be a better example of an ad hominem attack.

Well, as I read your pull-quote, he never uses the word "coward" as a noun, nor is any specific "hominem" mentioned, much less accused. Nor do I see him refer to "doomers" generally, or to any specific individual or class of beings, or indeed to any argument.

Rather, he has described his feelings about an attitude and context, and associated that attitude and context with a common human characteristic generally possessed of negative semantic baggage. The only way I can make sense of your own parsing is to guess that maybe your feet hurt.

Seems like you have identified yourself as poster child and spokesperson for the class of persons purportedly maligned, and then taken a general statement personally, and thereby justified the retaliatory impugning of a specific hominem (Nate) by accusing him of the sin of impugnment.

But he did that instead of answering our argument.

Since when did the word "pessimism" constitute an argument?

Now personally, I don't use the P word for the same reason I don't use EROI; it's an ambiguous, context-dependent term which can mean different things to different people. (And hey, you've seen me harp on Nate for using EROI).

It's possible to understand that the world is in a dire state, that solutions are not at hand, and that all possible outcomes are dire compared with what we have been used to. That is not pessimism, that is knowledge & understanding, educated cognitive anchoring. I'd submit that a choice to try to ameliorate the worst outcomes is neither optimistic or pessimistic. It is quite possible to work hard for something one expects to fail at, or to do the same while expecting success.

Yet it's a whole 'nother thing to decide that one's knowledge and understanding are so complete that the only possible answer is to give up and be a passive observer of the death of one's world and species, and actively evangelize for others to do likewise. I wouldn't call that cowardice, but I would call it a convenient untruth. It is the cherry on top of the predicament: a tempting rationale for the species which created this mess to sit back and watch it unfold with no imperative for intervention.

I oppose that narrative and rationale as a dangerous fallacy, and one to which our species is not ethically entitled. We have added too many hominems to a finite world, and that's on us.


Personnally I find professional "feel good types" people such as Nate Hagens with their little "catch phrases" rehashed to no end to be the real cowards.
(and systematically skipping adressing the only points that would make sense, such as volume based taxes)

I think it's a little unproductive to call people cowards.. I might agree and disagree with Nate on different things, or with 'Doomers' (another vague and multifaced label) .. but I have no reason to impugn any of their courage.

Enough namecalling.. (oh, dammit! Did I just call you a namecaller? It's just vicious, this circle is!)

My mind boggles at the idea of Nate being a "feel good type."

I know. That's how far it's come.

The IEA said it saw U.S. oil production rising to 10 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2015 and 11.1 million bpd in 2020

Wow, that would be an amazing feat. Does the IEA back this forecast up with evidence?

I'd guess that the TOD brain trust is at work on an analysis/rebuttal already.

It does seem like the IEA has gotten more optimistic about oil supplies lately. A lot more.

In my experience of organizations, policy change typically mean management change/replacement. Have there been any?

I'm not sure.

I think the game-changer is not personnel but shale. How much it changes the world oil picture is yet to be seen, but it's clearly been a sea change for oil analysts.


Maria van der Hoeven took over as Executive Director of the IEA on 1 September 2011

... Ms. van der Hoeven is a fierce supporter of market principles...

A political wonk appointed to the IEA last year, lots of government type experience, previous Minister of Economic Affairs.

I'd suggest that, yes, it's a management change from those in a position of governmental power to make sure the right things are said. Birol has been reined in somewhat, although amongst the rar-rar he did say

"Light, tight oil resources are poorly known ... If no new resources are discovered (after 2020) and plus, if the prices are not as high as today, then we may see Saudi Arabia coming back and being the first producer again," he said.

Not surprised she's from the Netherlands. I also disagree with Jack below about the TOD Brain Trust having to do a rebuttal. I think in the past the "brain trust" pointed out all the things that have to go right for a wildly optimistic or poorly defined surge in production were to come true. That is different than disproving it. You can't disprove a forecast, you can only make a more believable or easy to follow forecast yourself. This I know from being an economist - most forecasts are wildly optimistic and rarely come true. Realistic forecasters are not really even required in the real world, just official ones.

The people on the IEA management team are all career bureacrats - policy wonks. I don't see a lot of background in the physical sciences among them - they most have degrees in public administration. A few geologists and oil production or reservoir engineers would be good for them to have if they are trying to predict future world oil production.

No wonder they came up with this highly extravagant prediction of future US oil production. They think it makes some kind of sense in the physical world, which it doesn't. It only makes sense in the political world, where physical limitations are something to be ignored when setting policy.

And they are all from major oil importing countries - not a person from an oil exporting country (although, oil exporting countries are getting fewer all the time). Not even from the UK, which was a net oil exporter until recently.

It kind of reminds me of NASA management before the Challenger disaster who believed that the failure rate of the shuttle would be one in 100,000 flights while the engineers involved in the program felt it would be more like 1 in 100 flights. Management deluded themselves into believing the shuttle was far more reliable than it actually was because it carried people and therefore should have a high level of reliability. Similarily, the IEA delude themselves into believing that oil production will continue to rise because the world economy depends on that.

And then you ask yourself, as an economist, what is as tangible and as symbolic for an economy as a Challenger disaster to get the 'management' to wake up.

The IEA has a long history of being over optimistic in its predictions, but this one seems rather over the top.

US oil production has been rising recently because of increased production primarily in North Dakota and Texas. If the trend was broader and there were also major production increases in other oil-producing states such as California and Alaska, they might have a point, but production in those states continues to decline. From a geological perspective, I don't see where all the extra oil is going to come from.

You can't simply take an exponential growth curve and project it to infinity, because in non-renewable natural resource production it is inevitably just the first part of a bell-shaped curve which peaks and then starts to decline. I suspect the IEA is just taking exponential growth curves and projecting them up toward infinity.

Refinery gain is "oil production - other" and it has been growing lately in the US (cheap NG gives US refiners a competitive advantage). Will it continue to grow ? I doubt it. No new US refineries being built (except, possibly a small one in ND).

Is refinery gain included in Saudi oil production #s ? I do not know, but I doubt it, since most Saudi refined oil is burned at home.


Refinery gain is just an accounting fiddle. It adjusts for the fact that most of the products a refinery produces are less dense than the crude oil feedstock, and therefore the volume of the products is greater than the volume of the feedstock. If you accounted for it by mass, e.g. in tonnes such as the Europeans do, there would be no refinery gain.

Most countries, e.g. Canada where I live and worked in the oil industry, just ignore refinery gain. If somebody knows of other countries other than the US that account for it, they should pipe up now.

If you accounted for it by mass, e.g. in tonnes such as the Europeans do, there would be no refinery gain.

Same if you account fir it in energy terms (BTUs), which is after all the most important measure.

The problem with the IEA projections is that they seem to be based on the capitalists' mythological syllogism that, because it takes capital investment to drill a well, and it takes more wells to obtain more oil, it follows in some way that all you need to get more oil is more capital. Since banksters can loan money infinitely, there can be infinite capital, and hence infinite oil.



Pretty close. From the documentation on the 2012 World Energy Model (WEM) that the IEA uses to generate numbers:

The main exogenous assumptions concern economic growth, demographics, international fossil fuel prices and technological developments.... Demand for primary energy serves as input for the supply modules.

Assume a politically-acceptable economic growth rate. Work backwards to derive the amount of energy needed to generate that growth in each of a small set of scenarios. Allocate that amount of energy production across various sources. Since people are catching on that OPEC almost certainly can't increase production to the levels used in previous IEA forecasts, this year assert that the Bakken and tight gas can make up the difference instead.

I would desperately like to see the use of a model with endogenous energy variables, run under a variety of assumptions about reserves and production capabilities. Not that I expect to see such, since the answers are unlikely to make the politicians that fund the IEA happy.

TOD brain trust is at work on an analysis/rebuttal

I wish that were true. The Drumbeat used to be a great place to see all wild propositions shot down analytically.

But I find that more recently, people just say the argument is stupid, political, or a conspiracy. They blame the author, the publication, capitalism, economists, or use any tool they can to taint it without rebutting it.

My feeling that years ago the Drumbeat had a stronger representation from people who came to this discussion via analysis and dealt with issues on the basis of analysis. Now there are a lot more who came here through ideology and have to deal with counter arguments using the tools of ideologues.

I could be wrong, and the site is still great. But I do wish we could go back to the days when people could refute things they disagreed with logically, rather then through various incarnations of the ad homonym.

And if you disagreed with something, but had no value to add the discussion, you would keep your mouth shut, not just start slinging insults.

I would expect Leanan means that a KeyPost is likely to follow this issue, not that the Comments in the DB are going to tackle it.

Ah. You might be right. I hope so.

However, my comment stands. In the old days, people used to dig into the data and prove their points. Now people just say "That's dumb", or blame it on some plot.

I've noted the trend to. (I am here, see.) But here are still credible people who know stuff and throw usefull comments around. I see no viable replacements for TOD anywere on the web. Not even close.

For my own part, I have gotten As to the Qs I originally came her to find, and now tag along just to get the latests updates.

For me, and perhaps others who hang out here, there is an element of fatigue. For my own use I have run tons of analyses of spreadsheets and databases over the years and it is pretty clear to me that between depleting reserves, conservation in some part of the world (forced of voluntary is irrelevant), the role of life cycle economics and demographic forces in demand behavior, increasing decline rates, an increasing ratio of fixed vs variable costs in energy extraction over the longer term fossil fuel extraction and use is challenging, and challenging to predict, especially over short timeframes, to say the least. The data and conclusions are pretty much etched into my brain.
With respect to solar in all its forms and nuclear there are some really interesting and productive things which can be done, and likely at some point will be done. But, human nature as it is, this will be when net energy production is measurably in decline and any transition will have to have a panic flavor.
I just don't bother re-running numbers to show that most extremely positive predictions are highly unlikely to come true. Take for example Brazil. There are/were lots of people on TOD who pointed out that although offshore production was going to go up internal demand was likely to increase at the same, or even a greater rate. And guess what, a couple of years later those projections turned out to be pretty much spot on. Can US gross production inch higher? Probably. Will it make a significant difference with respect to lifestyle? Unlikely. In hindsight, will it matter that US NG production increased and that prices went below the marginal cost of production? Not really. It will be a blip on a graph.
In short, I no longer try to convince others of common-sense observations like "non-renewable resources, if consumed at a rate greater than zero will run out". Been there, done that. Time to make some coffee.

As jokuhl says, I meant there will probably be a key post on it.

As for the rest...yeah, I miss the old TOD, too. It's not just the ad homs, angry rants, and political crap that's diluted the value of the discussion here. It's that so many of the comments are silly. One-liners and jokes that aren't particularly funny and don't add much to the discussion, off-topic personal chit-chat which may be of interest to the people involved but is of no interest to anyone else, links to YouTube videos which are amusing to people bored at work but not particularly relevant to peak oil.

Part of it probably just the luck of the draw. The "personality" of a forum is shaped by its most active posters, and we have acquired a couple who post a lot of jokey comments and not much thoughtful analysis. This can be a self-reinforcing thing; people who are looking for deeper discussion will move on, while those who like the silliness stick around.

But as I've said before, I think the bigger issue is that peak oil has faded as an issue for many. The Drumbeat used to have a natural center of gravity that kept the discussion more or less on target. That is no longer there, because peak oil just no longer seems so urgent.

Which is entirely understandable. No longer are we hitting new record highs for oil prices every week. With demand, rather than supply, apparently controlling production, oil production graphs and speculation about the state of Ghawar don't hold the interest they once did. PeakOil.com is nearly dead, LATOC has shut up shop, EB has merged with the Post-Carbon Institute, Tom Whipple has decided cold fusion can save us.

I know there are still those who disagree, but I think many have decided that peak oil will be a long, drawn-out affair, very difficult to predict, and is therefore less compelling than other issues. Many of the best and the brightest have moved on.

Good analysis. I agree. Thanks.

I will look out for a Key Post.

And Roscoe Barlett, the sole voice for "finite fossil energy" in the US House, was defeated in the last election.

Yes, I think peak oil has lost its impact, even though we are now very near a peak in world liquid fossil energy production. After joining TOD over 6 years ago I thought peak oil would occur around 2012 to 2015, and I still think I am correct. Why? Because as Gail The Actuary has pointed out, the economy can only sustain energy price increases to the point where economic activity is curtailed. Then as price of oil falls so does the production, but with a time lag. That will soon happen to the Bakken formation just like has happened to the areas producing dry shale gas. Production of oil (and other liquid fuels) in the US will never reach production levels anywhere near IEA predictions. Peak oil won't be on the minds of many even when it is past, but the economic decline that it brings about will be obvious and affect nearly everyone.

I think it might be more complicated than that. The IEA may be right about the "hidden fuel" - increasing efficiency. There's still a lot of fat that can be cut. That might not be a good thing in the long term, but in the short and medium term, the plateau may go on. If you can do more with a barrel of oil, then it's worth the higher price.

I was never married to any one peak oil outcome. I thought anything was possible, from BAU continuing as long as I was around to worry about it to a Mad Max/gas stations going dry overnight scenario, with the largest probability being a Greer-esque long descent.

I'm still not ruling anything out, but I think it's becoming more and more likely that we'll get the long descent. The theory that our society is more brittle than the Maya or Rome or Easter Island, which took decades or centuries to collapse, has taken a hit. $100 oil and all those financial shenanigans have not led to the house of cards collapsing. Instead, it seems to be the opposite: inertia rules.

Tell that to the Greeks.

I'd say as long as Greece remains a popular vacation destination, you can't say they have collapsed.

There has always been some tourism to countries that were not a nice place to live for the locals. In the case of Greece, I think that with a huge percentage of the population losing half their income, 28% unemployment (much higher yet for young people), hospitals not getting drugs, supplies, or payment for months, young people moving back to their ancestors' villages to try and grow food, etc, this is as much "collapse" as one can expect within a few years time. I'm not talking a sudden zombie apocalypse, just a major "simplification" of the living arrangements. And it ain't over yet.

I wonder if TOD has any readers from Greece who would care to describe what it is like for them?

Living in the Eurozone and supposedly sharing a currency with Greece I can only say that they are being made an example of, not sure why, for much higher purposes or something. I can't make more sense of it. If you know anything about Debt/GDP levels it has nothing to do with that. It does have to do with trade balances which will never self-correct within the Eurozone as it is. It also has to do with oil. Tourist economies are not essential now are they? But the old Bagdad railway equivalent is of course essential. I'm ashamed about the euro crisis as a European but there is not much I can do except treat the Greeks I come across as well as I can and hear their stories. And I have done a bit of that.

Being a European too, I can confirm what Klooless has written just above. The Greeks are being ripped apart. They are the sacrifical lamb, and also the scapegoat by the way, to other european countries afraid of falling into the spiral of austerity. The MSM here have waged a disgusting and ashaming smear campaign on the so-called laziness of the whole greek people, calling them responsible of all the mess in europeans economy. You know what ? It works.

In Greece, there is a fascist far right wing party ("Aube Dorée" - Golden Dawn) that has risen in the last months, and whose some "congressmen" can freely assault protesters, journalists or political opponents in the streets or in the parliament, the victims being mocked by the cops.

The elderly are being flashed and beaten down during protests.

Hospitals are in need of basic drugs, many treatments for serious illnesses are being cancelled out due to the lack of these drugs hospitals and drugstores cannot buy any more.

Members of the aforementioned party have taken the soup kitchen in charge...

The rate of suicides is skyrocketting.

The proportion of AIDS infected people has doubled in the youth, because the last allocation to be given what that that is attributed to seropositive people, and many young people in their 20s have VOLUNTARILY infected themselves.

Athens has lost almost a tenth of its inhabitants, who fled to the hills into self-built homes to grow their own food.

Greece is being torn into pieces. So long for the sweet descent.

I can give a link to the blog of a Greek anthropologist who thrillingly describes all of these matters, but it is in French. I am sure you may find valuable pieces of news in the Guardian site.

I can give a link to the blog of a Greek anthropologist who thrillingly describes all of these matters, but it is in French. I am sure you may find valuable pieces of news in the Guardian site.

French?! Mon Dieu! L'horreur! Certains d'entre nous peuvent comprendre le français... I mean, it's not like it's all 'GREEK' to us, it's just latin >;-)


I wanted the content to be understandable by most readers here, but anyhow you are right, even a single person interested in it is worth posting the link !

So here it is :


By the way, there is also this (that requires free registration for some articles, and suscribing for all content if I recall)



Merci. Google translated it for me, didn't even have to copy paste. Now that's what I call technology.

Exactly. Even well before peak oil, there were people who were not doing well. People starving to death, even.

Moreover, I don't think you can necessarily pin this on peak oil. The mortgage bubble would have popped eventually, peak oil or no peak oil. That's what bubbles do. People who do not believe in peak oil were calling it years ahead of time. Similarly, many expressed doubt about the euro, particularly allowing countries like Greece into it.

True. In the case of Greece, it would be fallacious to link the current situation to peak oil, but what if smaller economies like Greece's could not recover from depression trauma, due to relentlessly rising energy prices ?

I am afraid that those who are falling right now, will have a very hard time to climb out of the hole.

Edit : even if global energy prices do not really endlessly go to the north, lesser economies are at risk of being outbidden in the race for shrinking (or at least not growing any more) volumes.

Yes, I've thought that as well. High energy prices may make it difficult or impossible to "recover."

But it's just a theory so far. It's common for economic recoveries to take much longer after a bubble bursts than after a garden-variety recession. (The Great Depression was the result of a bubble bursting, as is Japan's 20-year battle with deflation.)

For now, the US economy, heck, even the global economy, is doing a lot better than I expected it would be four years ago.

But in the past, those hurt economies would have recovered in a larger context of global growth, which does not seem to be currently the exact premise. But let's hope that we succeed in maintaining some sort of BAU, which will strongly help in the mitigation of we know what.

edit : from an Old World POV, it would seem that the US is doing not so bad partly because the focus is right now on european turmoil, least episodic thrills on the US debt ceiling.

There was an article in the MSM about Sandy and the climate quoted a week or two ago, that used the baseball analogy: you can't say that a particular home run was caused by the player taking steroids, but you can say that the probability of a home run is higher due to the steroids. Same for the economic troubles seen in the last 5 years. You can't prove that they are the result of peak oil, but it is what you'd expect to see. Or at least there was one school of thought that predicted this sort of economic squeeze, rather than the pumps running dry overnight.

And I wouldn't say the world economy is doing well at all. "Extend and pretend" has been the modus operandi for a while, but a growing number of people in the formerly industrialized world are falling off the edge after losing the race to the bottom with lower-wage countries. It's not just Greece. Just this morning I heard on NPR a story about a hospital in Connecticut that is losing money and laying workers off. Don't judge "the economy" by the indices used to describe the "stock market". And remember the joke: Bill Gates walks into a bar - the average income of people in the bar instantly increases 4000%.

The financial crash and now the latest blow from Hurricane Sandy has just sent one of my friends out of work, out of her last paycheck, and without family health insurance as her company finally succumbed and went bankrupt. This company was prospering before the financial crash providing highly technical training in Dot Net with a job placement rate of well over 90% for graduates who were carefully filtered with a test to qualify for the program. Since the crash they had increasing problems recruiting students who could get student loans to take the program. They tried to arrange financing with a Credit Union which did help some but not enough. Ironically despite the excellent job placement rate in highly paid IT jobs, students, usually middle-aged or past their 20's at least, just could not put together the tuition.
Hurricane Sandy closed the office and disrupted their operations so badly that they finally went bankrupt.

Another friend of mine who worked for decades with no problems as a paralegal has had no work past a few months since Dec 2007. He would get a temporary contract for a few months and then be out of work again several times. He could no longer pay the rent and now is forced to live in a shelter to survive. He has had a few positions but they only last a few weeks.

The Great Contraction squeeze is well along and destroying millions of lives in the US.

It's not doing well...but that is what you would expect after a bubble bursts, even without peak oil.

And I said it was doing a lot better than I expected, not that it was doing well.

I'm not basing anything on the stock market. More on what I see when I look around. There has clearly been a recovery of sorts, though it's not the vigorous bounce back you see after a typical recession. (Nor would I expect it to be, because that's not what happens after a bubble bursts.) Roads that were empty are filled with traffic. Parking lots are full of shoppers. My friends who had been unemployed not only have jobs, they're getting picky, quitting perfectly good jobs for ones they think they'll like better. They're getting married, having kids, buying houses, when all that was on hold before. Prices have risen for airfare, hotels, cruises. There are help wanted signs, when before there were none.

For now, the US economy, heck, even the global economy, is doing a lot better than I expected it would be four years ago.

Then perhaps your expectations were much much lower than even mine?!

In a way I think that's a bit like claiming that a comatose patient in the ICU is doing a lot better because the nurses managed to temporarily restore her pulse rate after she had completely flatlined... So while the heart may be beating again the other major organs are in serious danger of failing.

In my book, 'better' means that there is a realistic prospect of the patient making a full recovery and going back to her 'normal life'. I'm afraid I really don't see that as a possibility in this case. Maybe a multiple organ transplant is in the works? Though I doubt if the insurance is going to cover it.

In any case, I too see a lot of the circumstances similar to the ones described by vtpeaknik and orbit7er in their comments.

Peak Oil or not, real people are hurting badly right now and here is why!


The government may have been instrumental to the US economy growing in the third quarter (did we say may: generating over 30% of the annualized 2.0% "growth" in Q3 probably qualifies as was absolutely instrumental in this impartial, apolitical datapoint), but the bottom line is that there was a cost. There is always cost. And a number: the number is $15.776 trillion, which was the absolute GDP number as of September 30, 2012 (to be revised lower in one month). This means we can now calculate what total US Debt-GDP was as of 3 weeks ago. And with the DTS reporting that debt was $16.16 trillion as of the day the third quarter ended (net of the SSN funding adjustment, which of course is always reported the first day of the next quarter for window dressing purposes), it means that total US Debt-to-GDP was 102.4%. And obviously rising much faster as since the Second Great Depression it takes well over $2 in debt for every $1 increase in GDP. Because there never is such a thing as a free lunch, especially when the government is operating the soup kitchens...

Then perhaps your expectations were much much lower than even mine?!

As I said before...I was expecting the economy to be so poor Obama would not be re-elected. Not Mad Max or even Great Depression bad, but Jimmy Carter bad, or at least Bush the Elder bad. But that's not the case, and I think the fact that Obama was re-elected shows that the economy actually isn't that terrible. Yes, some people are hurting. Yes, economic numbers should be eyed skeptically. But the incumbent in the White House kept his job. To me, that's pretty clear proof that things aren't that bad on Main St. USA.

Sure, ZeroHedge is freaking out over debt, but that's what Zero Hedge does. It might be that debt isn't nearly as bad as they fear. Or at least, BAU will go on for much longer than debt hawks imagine.

Remember Denninger, predicting that CNBC would be out of business in 18 months? That was back in 2008.

perhaps from the american perspective inertia rules. however, if one looks at the world as a whole then i'm not so sure. the european situation is not getting any better. also chinese aim to double their gdp in this decade. in the last decade they also doubled gdp and energy usage. but one doesn't quite see how this new doubling of energy consumption in fact could be possible.

on the other hand if inertia rules and fossil fuels continue to be produced and used as iea predicts, then obviously it means that nothing is done to reduce co2 emissions. so if the climate science is correct we could see rather dramatic changes in the not so distant future.

The latest develoments have made me rank climate change as the more serious problem between that and peak oil. PO is still a problem, but CC show signs of faster acceleration. Stuff we expected PO to bring in by now has not happened yet, and stuff we expected CC to bring ten years from now is already a reality. PO is a real and serious problem. Just that CC is even more real and even more serious.

I used to think the same way -- PO would impact us before CC. One thing I didn't count on was the growing use of coal (yesterday's fuel) and natural gas. Carbon emissions continue to climb even though oil production plateaued years ago while at the same time the ability of natural systems to absorb that extra carbon is maxing out.

That's my thinking as well. Peak oil is happening a lot slower than many imagined, but climate change is happening a lot faster.

I know of several peak oilers who have moved on to climate change as their main concern.

There's one thing that's brought Climate Change from the back burner for me...the rapid loss of arctic ice. This is a game changer and likely why we've been seeing such wild and weird weather. The destabilizing effect on the polar high should have everyone crapping their pants.

But I also don't think it's an "either/or"...I think we have BOTH to worry about now. Just as I noticed trending towards 2008 with oil, I think the 2015 +-1 is shaping up to be another inflection point on the oil front. There's so much volatility now though...the trend towards 2008 was well defined, but the next point is currently a weak signal amongst a lot of noise.

I don't think they should be taking their eye off the PO ball. This is a Jared Diamond-esque co-incidence of bad things...peak oil, climate change, sick oceans, fresh water, overpopulation, forest destruction...toss on top a sprinkling of middle east and north Africa political instability, European and US financial messes, China's instability (social, financial, environmental), India's water and electricity problems.

There have always been problems, but so many of these have connections to other parts and the magnitudes are so large. Any single one could possibly be adapted to, but if we get a 5% reduction in crop productivity from climate change in the US, 10% increase in the cost of producing those crops due to oil stagnation, irrigation failures in India from depleted aquifers driving prices another 10%. Then the rise in food prices causes riots in, say, Saudi Arabia...

These systems are connected and it's not one or another...it's all of them combined, and if a couple gang together they can push the others to a tipping point.

S- I agree it's not either/or, it's "all of the above" (with overpop. of course being at the root of all...). But who do you mean by 'they' as in 'should [not] be taking their eye off the PO ball'? Who in any meaningful way has their eye on said ball? We, here? Watching the train wreck, mostly. The power brokers - be they politicians, CEOs, or shadowy lever pullers - seem pretty clearly to be pretty clueless about energy and climate issues. Unless one buys Alex Jones type thinking (which I don't) that it's all being orchestrated intentionally. Anyway, who's your 'they'?

I'd have to disagree with that assessment Leanan.

I still hang around, see what people are saying, but since 2003-ish it's been much less about oil fields and Hubbert curves for me, and much more about the descent and the shape/circumstances of that descent. It's that half that's got less/no coverage here; in part because it's less tables of numbers and more network maps and fuzzy math.

The shape of oil production, the swift falling away of the old giants, the stepwise impact on the global economy, etc. have all been long recognised. Fracking tight oil, etc. aren't changing the big picture any.

Instead it's the crass and global nature of the fraudulent way the financial community is set up that changes the descent profile. We have been given a key, evidentially, data point - that global finance is a shell game that collapses when someone looks under a shell, that governments will beggar their people to keep that shell game going as long as possible, and that even with the wakeup call of the GFC, nothing will be done to rein it in till it's already collapsed.

That sets the shape of the staircase down.

Recovering economies will push oil usage up, prices spike, finance collapses somewhere, with a knock on effect that brings the economy low - rinse and repeat. Except eventually one of those steps will break the local system and rather than recovery, we see a downward spiral. That's what Greece has shown us - it's an economy that is collapsing, even with cash injections. Next time there won't be any injections, and the fall will be faster. Companies, countries, what's the difference?

Now, with each step we get a degree of simulated annealing - stupid oil usages are pushed out. We even have some idea of the scale of that as the US has trimmed 0.5-1Mbpd of usage from their profligate ways. However these efficiency gains are unable to match decline rates, and coupled with the contraction in credit guarantee that collapses will happen (positive feedback from GFC n>less drilling>sooner GFCn+1).

On top of that is my 'lands model - that decline rates will not be at a general level worldwide, but via a variety of factors will be concentrated in particular areas - meaning it doesn't actually matter what the decline rate is, it still produces local, and then wider, collapse that's communicated by the finance community.

To quote Gibson - "The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed."

Peak Oil is the same as Climate Change - it's happening, and nothing will be effectively done to stop it, and for the same reason - politicians are unfit for these purposes.

The only questions left are the detailed circumstances of the decline, and constructing your lifeboat.

I'm going to respectfully disagree regarding the race between peak oil and climate change. My model is the United States in the 1890s. The pollution in New York City was very visible: horse manure. Not enough room was available on Manhattan Island for the stables and the storage of hay. There were serious academic conferences on the subject.

We know the ending of the story, and for that reason we become complacent. Twice we have had a Deus ex Machina rescue, once by coal (from wood) and again by crude oil and the mass production of both cars and the roadways on which to operate them. We faced serious pollution in the late 1960s before the idea of vehicle testing, pollution controls, and the whole environment movement took off. I was a freshman engineering student on the first Earth Day, and we believed we could fix any problem. In 1972 I read and reread the Limits to Growth and had a poster about overpopulation on my dorm wall.

Now it's a "horse" race between peak oil and climate change. I just don't think we will be able to afford to extract enough oil fast enough to keep Business as Usual going. Whether we hit 450 ppm or not, I can only guess, but I see a shark fin ahead. I find "progressives" as clueless as my fellow conservatives when it comes to resource depletion. Both presidential candidates were "peak oil" aware; both were silent. Climate change was never mentioned in the campaign.

By 2025 we will be changed beyond anything we can imagine today.

After wood->coal and coal->oil, the obvious next step is oil->nuclear. But we got frightened and let restrictive legislation take the place of research and experimentation in taming of the beast.

Personally, I think we should have stayed the course on nuclear, but I'm in the minority here.

You make it sound like we somehow haven't already built and seen results from having nuclear power. Seen the downside risks, and our capacity to handle it. Seen the economics, seen the fragility of this topheavy and overly concentrated approach to generating power.

We have research going on all over the world.. and we still have no solid answers for how to contain and control the wastes pouring out of a Fukushima or a Chernobyl without the rescue funding of the Taxpayers carrying the load. Even WITH that blind and brutal expenditure of state funds, we never know when a cleanup job will be 'done'.. there very well may not BE a 'done'.

You think we should add a whole lot more of these, with Flooding and Drought and Storm events building up all around the planet?

It's simply offensive to suggest it.

To add to what Jokuhl said, with which I concur, I suggest anyone thinking we should go nuclear and have solved the waste/decommissioning issues going forward watch the doc Into Eternity

I am a news junkie, and I never saw Congressman Bartlett on 60 Minutes, Face the Nation, 20/20, Time, Newsweek, The Economist, Scientific American, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, most of the military mags and news sites, and on and on.

Once people started lamenting his impending political demise here, a 10-minute search and fast read of his voting record revealed to me a person who did not seem to be a good advocate for Limits To growth Issues.

Well the politicians have already dealt with the "Limits to Growth" issue by relabeling rampant economic growth to be "Sustainable Growth". I wonder if that term was developed by the same people who invented "Clean Coal"?

My son lived in Frederick Maryland for about 15 years before moving back to Alabama about 4 years ago. He is a democrat but registered as a republican just so he could vote against Roscoe Bartlett in the primary. He knew Bartlett would always win in the general election. Bartlett is a Bible thumping right wing anti-abortion fanatic. However redistricting did him. Part of the heavily democratic Montgomery County was put in his district and that finished him.

Of course he is also a peak oiler. Which just proves, I suppose... well hell, I don't know what that proves.

Ron P.

fast read of his voting record revealed to me a person who did not seem to be a good advocate for Limits To growth Issues.

Yeah, he actually may have been defeated because he stumbled into the rapenuts caucus when opining about abortion and rape.

And whether you accept it or not, having abortion legal is something that can help reduce uncontrolled growth.

As someone who has been following peak oil and TOD since around 2005, I hardly find this a good time to "tune out." Back in what some of us view as "the good old days" of TOD, I recall there were three general scenarios posited for the (then) next few years:

1. Ever-increasing oil prices which would make driving essentially unaffordable and thrust the reality of peak oil into everyone's consciousness.

2. An economic slump driven by high oil prices, which would destroy demand and arrest the upward price trend, thus obscuring the behind the scenes driving factor of peak oil.

3. A war or crisis of some sort which would put everything on an emergency/rationing basis, thus obscuring the behind the scenes driving factor of peak oil.

No. 1 was the most popular scenario; I expected that myself, and when the conversation gained sufficient momentum in that direction, Leanan would usually weigh in and point out that No. 2 could happen just as well.

The fact that we clearly have gone down one of those roads, the No. 2 route so far, lends much credence to the preceding dialog on this board.

I don't think that just because we're stumbling along in an economic malaise right now, that things can't get much worse fairly quickly. The wild card is the exponentially increasing U.S. national debt, and how that plays out.

At any rate, the conversation here is IMO consistently stimulating and informative. In the "good old days" we did have serious ongoing troll problems, which have largely gone away. Anyone posting now to sell something or push an agenda quickly gets called out by the regular contributors, or deleted by the moderators. I personally don't feel that the occasional touch of humor or light-hearted links detract from this conversation; in fact they are in a way the sugar and spice that offset the heaviness of what is usually being discussed. It seems that's why the Drumbeat has been sort of partitioned off on its own anyway; to allow a more free form dialog and more congenial level of (virtual) social interaction. Just my $.02.

I think a big part of why many don't see PO as happenng is that its victims, for now, are mainly the poor. News outlets, media groups, and yes, even posters on forums tend to forget the poor exist. I work with the poor daily- gas prices are killing them in so many ways I can't list them all. My guess is that even most posters on TOD are probably middle class or above and don't live in that world (sorry, being a rural survivalist doesn't count as poor)Certainly most news outlets and pundits are walled off from this reality. 2012 will record all time average high price for gasoline.

On the one hand I can sympathize with you and I may have been one to dilute and lower the level of the debate since joining. On the other I've enjoyed participating but may soon be gone too with this kind of dismal attitude on your part Leanan. We all have a worldview, an agenda etc. Thank you for explaining what you think is important. But I think TOD has a lot to gain from many points of view and the situation on the oil fields is going to change everything so why can't it be open here? Sheesh.

Waaaaaah! I'll come back by disagreeing with nearly everything you've said here. Call it my own personal biases and fears parading out of a bent nerve. For starters, I expect the character of the drumbeat to be a little more freeform than a topic post or single author article. I'm also newer, so I can't speak to sea changes over time except as regards to archives I've read here. Maybe we've been out to lunch for a few weeks, but really, we're all suddenly taking the slow decline view, really? As if Gail, Ghung, Fred, Ron, and the rest of the crew aren't still one of the more vocal factions? Really? Just beacuse it's been over a week since we got the latest ELM update, we all have PO fatigue? Half the group here probably has election fatigue, but when we get PO fatigue, you'll know it, because we'll be over on the AGW sites, but we're still here now. Really, if we've been delinquent about trotting out graphs, I'd have to place the blame more on the MSM & the lack of newcomers; even the cornucopians are taking the day off - so we're all left talking to the choir. When Jack says "that's how far it's come [that Nate could be called a cornucopian]", that sort of illustrates my point. When was the last time someone came on here and asked for a deep explanation of something? All we're left with is arguing how fast it's gonna go. We've got "yet another cornucopian article in the drumbeat" fatigue - notice how they've all pretty much been about the rise of shale gas and US energy independance for at least 6 months now? Only so many times you can rebutt these things when every commenter on here obviously already gets it. Seems to me it's pretty obvious the cornies are in trouble - when all you're left with is repeating the same argument over and over, you're clearly on shaky ground, and I think we've pretty well beat that one senseless by now on TOD. Yeah, most of us are just hanging out for the latest news, and to keep in touch with eachother, and maybe share practical advice on appropriate tech. But fear not, gas isn't gonna sit at $3.50/g in the US forever. People will be asking meaty questions again and throwing numbers about sonner than I'd like, I suspect. Demand destruction keeps things on an even keel so long as we're on the plateu. I think we've got unanimous agreement that plateau is gonna get real interesting somewhere between 2015 and 2035, and somehow I doubt the drill baby drill philosophy is gonna keep enough people enthralled to keep us in our momentarily quiet little corner of the web here forever. Meantime, I'm gonna go back to making a greenhouse over my aquaponic gardens as soon as it's light out. Only numbers I'll need there are on my tape measure.

I don't mean to discount your concerns, I just think they're more of an external problem than an internal one. We haven't burned our PhD's to keep warm just as yet.


Well, I'm personally on long-term tenterhooks about it.. I don't think 'It's quieted down, maybe it's not such a big deal and will happen a little more lightly.'

I think we're in the calm before the storm.

We're those people before a Tsuname who wander out mystified onto the seabed, wondering where the ocean just went.

I don't know what the hits will be like, and what I/WE will do when it comes. I don't buy into the pure hopelessness and shoulder shrug response, and I don't think we'll be able to snap the fingers of the invisible hand and 'no problem!', either.. but I think we're in for it, for a great big thrashing.

McKibben spoke in Portland last night. I appreciate his approach, and his perspective that-

'Those of us who just want to see if we can keep the climate in the range that all living species throughout the Holocene were born into are NOT radicals. The people who earn 200,000 a day and are willing to base their business model on a process that can fundamentally change the chemical composition of the Earth's atmosphere ARE Radicals.'

They should be opposed, whether we can beat them or we can't.. but it's crazy to shrug our shoulders and go, 'I'm just one person. My vote, my dollar, my words and actions hardly matter anyhow. What can I do?' .. more than nothing is the answer to that.

Maybe we've been out to lunch for a few weeks, but really, we're all suddenly taking the slow decline view, really? As if Gail, Ghung, Fred, Ron, and the rest of the crew aren't still one of the more vocal factions? Really? Just beacuse it's been over a week since we got the latest ELM update, we all have PO fatigue?

I'm talking much longer term than a week or a month. The change I see dates from about 2008. It seems like the financial crisis diverted a lot of attention from peak oil. When the credit crisis did not result in destroying supply chains and collapsing the world economy, and oil prices plummeted due to lower demand, I think a lot of people changed their view of how it all was likely to unfold. Not all, of course.

I think it's a slow-motion train wreck, Leanan. But it's not all THAT slow, either.

I can't conclude that the Euro Crisis, coming four years after that big splash of $150 oil, and of the initial spate of Airline closures, Fannie/Freddie, Market Stumbles in the fall, Arab Spring and a steady Popcorn Pattering since of mini-recessions and micro recoveries.. that these are mere coincidence.

Maybe we can't literally Pin it on PO or CC.. they've had long enough in their startup in a complex world to have all manner of Alibis and Plausible Deniability.. but for now, I think it's like Palmolive..

"You're Soaking in it!"

It was interesting to look at Sting's 'If the russians love their children too', which I looked up after hearing McKibben last night to see if it could be morphed over into 'If Exxon Mobil loved their Children, too..' ... and in the middle of the vid, there was a headline about Nuke Testing, and on the same Paper, the Sub Headline was about the imminent fall of Mossadegh.

History still rhymes pretty good! ( and Tragedy makes the best comedy! )

.. and finally, visiting my Dad last night, he's eager to find the sheet music for the song, 'We'll Meet Again' .. he really just loves the song, while he knows the association it will now be forever connected to. He loves the full circle of 5ths that is structured into it. A lot of other circles around it, too!

Yes, as vtpeaknik notes above, the analogy of steroids in baseball is being used WRT storms/AGW, and I think is quite transferable to political/economic turmoil and PO. Can any single one be blamed on PO? Perhaps not yet. But are the chances of encountering minced meat and veggies greater when you're in the soup?

PO - we're soaking in it!

(boiling frogs, soup, baseball, Palmolive - conflated a lot of things there, I know... but works for me)

extra credit for the peak oil/palmolive liquid meme-framing

I have always viewed post-Peak Oil world as unpredictable, with a variety of possible outcomes and paths forward in time. My efforts are to tilt the probabilities towards the better outcomes. Sometimes small preparations have have major impacts - but not always.

Best Hopes,


Is anyone still predicting a year or range of years in which oil production will peak?

Yes, Robert Hirsch - The Impending World Oil Shortage: Learning from the Past. He said, back in June, that it would be in one to four years. He said that last year they said "in two to five years", and he is sticking to it. That would somewhere in the range of 2013 to 2016.

Ron P.

That would somewhere in the range of 2013 to 2016.

Strange Ron, because rising oil prices lead to demand destruction and hurts the economy. I don't think Hirsch
has Mad Max scenarios in mind regarding oil supplies before 2017.

There might be some additional information at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-a...

The IEA is counting biofuels and NGLs in the production figures. However, biofuels are energy intensive to produce, and their production depends on favorable economic and climatic conditions; recent reports indicate that biofuel production in the US has started to decrease and that many producers are having financial problems.

There is a another look to your supposition that biofuel production is starting to decrease.

First, I am not an etoh proponent. But it seems that the main world importer of corn has goals of self sufficiency in corn production, that China's production is rising with the adoption of new technology and seed created for their conditions, Monsanto at the forefront. This would lower US exports, and possibly lower prices. I imagine much of the heretofore exports will go to etoh.

The Reuters article on IEA's WEO had this...

"The United States, which currently imports around 20 percent of its total energy needs, becomes all but self-sufficient in net terms - a dramatic reversal of the trend seen in most other energy importing countries," it said.

--- snip ---

The IEA said it saw U.S. oil production rising to 10 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2015 and 11.1 million bpd in 2020 before slipping to 9.2 million bpd by 2035.

How does the U.S. become self sufficient when it consumes 18.8 million bopd, according to the EIA?

I know that the U.S. oil production numbers are juiced with with ethanol, NGL, and refinery gains but arriving at a conclusion of self-sufficiency is peculiar?

The EIA has total oil production at 10.14 million bopd, where's the other 8 million bopd going to come from; energy efficiency (negawatts)?

In the G&M article, it was clear that they were talking about North America being self sufficient. There seems to be a lot of loose thinking and writing concerning oil production.

As I understand it, the Soviet Union lied about production of everything quite a lot. Seems the West is basically going in the same direction. Problems are now so big that spin no longer suffices to hide them and outright lying and embellishment has become the new normal.

Headlines are here today, forgotten tomorrow, no one even bothers checking the facts any more because stories die so fast. But the impressions those headlines engender live on and take a life of their own, even later revisions and recants don't change the perceptions generated.

The information we're receiving is literally becoming unbelievable.

I haven't seen the breakdown (which is presumably in the report, not the summary) however the wording suggests that coal and natgas is included: US is a coal exporter now and produces 85% of natgas:

“The United States, which currently imports around 20% of its total energy needs, becomes all but self-sufficient in net terms by 2035 thanks to rising production of oil, shale gas and bioenergy, and improved fuel efficiency in transport.”

The assumption that US will be oil self-sufficient is simply speculation. If US energy consumption plummets for economic reasons the US will be oil self-sufficient at a very low level of extraction.

LoL! Yes, even France will be self-sufficient in oil eventually too. Once usage has fallen to the same level as production that is. :)

The Telegraph has an interesting article with some info:

US to overtake Saudi Arabia in oil as China's water runs dry

A few things struck me:

* Coal has provided half the entire growth in world energy supply over the last decade, much more than renewables.

* Total investment in oil and gas alone this year is (estimated) $619 billion. It shows the sheer scale.

* Total oil output will be less than 100 million b/d by 2035. This is not that much higher than this year at 87 million.

This is Plateau Oil in all but name, yet the industrial revolutions of China and India will continue apace, and the nuclear industry has just taken a huge blow. More coal I guess, and windmills.

The 688-page report – which I am not at liberty to publish online – is full of fascinating details.

The clearest message is that water shortages in large parts of the world are the chief constraint on energy and power. Cooling a coal power plant without water is not easy, and solar parks are very thirsty.

Yes, China has the world's biggest shale gas reserves at 36 trillion cubic metres, but much of it is in places like the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang with "severe water scarcity".

I found this interesting too.

I was told a couple of years ago by Cheng Siwei – then head of China's green energy drive – that the country's economic growth over recent years has been negative if you adjust for eco-damage and exhaustion of non-renewable resources. This will soon become a tangible cost.

Water-adjusted GDP may yet become a vogue term.

Something about which I've been dwelling on a bit recently, the intractable link between technological progress and ecosystem degradation. A zero sum game where enhancing one degrades the other and degradation of either has severe consequences for mankind.

Reminds me of something a WW1 ace wrote in his diary after shooting down a German plane. He followed the plane down which was beginning to burn, at first the German pilot got out of the cockpit, readying himself to jump (they didn't have parachutes), he hesitated, got back into the cockpit, sat down and waited. Lets be optimistic, we have choices about our future too.

What a great post!
The last paragraph provided the ever welcome strangled guffaw that gets me through my dwindling days.

An 'optimist' (c;

"As I understand it, the Soviet Union lied about production of everything quite a lot."

There were quotas to be met. A Georgian friend tells of water being added to vegetable bins on farm scales to meet weight quotas. Next year, even more was expected.



"During 1975–85, corruption and data fiddling became common practice among bureaucracy to report satisfied targets and quotas thus entrenching the crisis."

The quarterly profits system produces congruent results... but the motives for the API and EIA "news" campaigns are different.

"The information we're receiving is literally becoming unbelievable."

...My Georgian friend says people would just laugh at the stuff presented as "news". After the fall, it became much clearer how much, how all of it, had been lies. This is why the internet must be neutered and education stopped: they undermine authority. Dogma is the truth as revealed by an authority.


Universal education is absolutely essential for propaganda to work effectively. Russia and other communist countries had a relatively well educated population, as does the West.

Yup, you have to be able to read the posters, and it helps to be taught they should be believed!

Education is a double edged sword. One side deepens understanding, one side narrows it. You can be taught how to think critically and at the same time, paradoxically, taught not to question the wrong things.

True critical thought, like that from the Greek philosophers like Socrates, Epicurus and Diogenes, is hard to find under the noise nowadays. And it certainly isn't taught in schools.

From everything I've read about the Soviet Union (btw Red Plenty is a really great book), the propganda was so over the top that no one believed it. To avoid unwanted police state scrutiny, they pretended to believe it.

Yeah, I worked in communist Poland and East Germany before the wall fell. No one with any sense believed what was said, but they did feel threatened by the West, not because they thought of the West as an enemy, but by its behaviour. The East Germans seem to take the whole communist thing much more seriously.

I think the difference I noticed between the East and West was that the East tried to control the system and broke it, whereas in the West we let the system control us.

The glaring fact that the math doesn't even come close to being correct leads me to believe this IEA statement is 100% political and directed at the millions of eyes that will fail to do the math or even notice the illogic.

You are on to something: energy intensive industries could cease their business model of consumption and switch over to the more profitable production of virtual barrels of oil. If that's not enough, think of the huge derivative market for virtual changes in virtual production. Wet dreams, Wallstreeters!

They are talking about TOTAL energy needs when they say 20%. We may reduce oil imports, but I doubt that they will go to zero and I really doubt the U.S. will become an oil exporter.

They say most of the 20% because we import 85% of our uranium, to use at more than 100 nuclear power plants. If we did not, we would be out of uranium in about 20 years. It sounds good, but the realities say otherwise.

We CAN combine greater production with greater efficiency and be in a better energy situation. We COULD develop fast neutron reactors and use up the remaining energy in all those spent fuel rods. We COULD do lots of things, but I have not seen us do them.

"Total energy needs" and "self-sufficient in net terms" refers to all forms of energy. The U.S. could simply export more energy than it imports. For example, the U.S. could export coal to China. The U.S. could also reduce consumption of energy. Export Land Model essentially proclaims that energy independence in crude oil will occur over the next 20 years or so for net oil importing countries.

The executive summary is available free of charge here:


The full report costs 150 euros. The ES does project *North American* net self-sufficiency, but goes on to say that we will not be insulated from global prices. My translation; keystone and northern gateway go ahead and you can buy all the $8/gal gas you want - here or in China.

Peak oil by any other name...

from up top "Is Bakken Set To Rival Ghawar?"

This predicts that over the next decade or so 52,000 wells could be drilled in the Bakken and Three Forks formations. At a future cost of $7,000,000 each, which is typical of todays well development cost, this would be $364 billion. Cost per well will likely increase, especially as sweet spots are exhausted and drilling goes for thinner pay zones with lower porosity. Would not doubt thqat cost would be more like $500 to $600 billion. I wonder if this can be financed since price of oil now is falling and costs have risen significantly since four years ago when Harold Hamm said Bakken requires $60/barrel to break even.

One error in the article appears to be the claim that the play consists of two shale layers sandwiching a middle sandstone layer (payzone). If this is true, why are so many frac stages required since sandstone normally has some permeability? Can anyone explain this, or is the author wrong about the sandstone layer?

OTOH, electrifying our freight railroad main lines (36,000 miles) will cost $50 to $80 billion, expanding & speeding them up enough to take half+ of the truck freight another $80 to $200 billion (mostly reinvested capital).

Building all the urban rail I can hope for, over twenty years, a bit over $500 billion (French x2 and adjust for population).

Seems a better long term investment than Bakken (like no depletion).


I would rather spend $100 billion on synthetic fuel plants producing gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from biomass and natural gas than $600 billion on advanced well drilling in the U.S.

People say it is the oil company's money, they can spend it any way they want. When it gets more expensive to get less oil, it becomes everyone's money. It is the net worth of a society being spent in a less than optimal way.

I would rather spend $100 billion on synthetic fuel plants producing gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from biomass and natural gas than $600 billion on advanced well drilling in the U.S.

Before you spend that $100 billion on anything to do with biomass, you might want to read this paper by Ted Patzek in a comment posted in this thread by h2:


Easy to argue against corn ethanol, that is not what I mean. Grow 30 million acres of Miscanthus instead of corn, gasify it then add hydrogen from natural gas. We would have enough synthetic fuels to never have to buy OPEC oil ever again.

Grow 30 million acres of Miscanthus instead of corn

Perhaps but I'd still like to see an in depth analysis of the real costs in terms of energy inputs and the environmental consequences of growing this crop, similar to the one done on corn by Patzek. Even then there is another issue which should raise some serious red flags for Miscanthus being that it is a sterile hybrid and would constitute a monoculture.
You can't breed it or genetically modify it. If were to be infected by a pathogen the entire crop could be wiped out at all at once.


Renewable energy resources are of great interest today. Miscanthus research has been conducted at the University of Illinois and in Europe and England using Miscanthus x giganteus, a natural hybrid of Miscanthus sinensis and M. sacchariflorus, as a biomass fuel or fiber source (Walsh and Jones, 2002).

Almost all of the renewable energy research work refers to this one specific type of Miscanthus, M. x giganteus, a pollen sterile natural hybrid that grows quite tall, 8-12' in Minnesota (pictured) and up to 14' in warmer climates. This form sets no viable seed. Twenty tons of dry M. x giganteus is equivalent of 12 tons of coal; and 30 tons is equivalent to 12,000 liters of oil. Biomass economic viability for M. x giganteus varies depending on yield, subsidy, length of years of production and price paid for the crop. Early analysis at the University of Illinois in central United States, estimated M. x giganteus to be profitable if grown for 12 years.

Cornell University's grass bioenergy website provides current information on several grasses. Stewart et al., 2009, and Zub and Brancourt-Hulmel 2010, have published reviews of Miscanthus including ecology, agronomy and biomass implications.

Yes Fred.
Similar numbers here in the UK.
As a retired agricultural scientist I did some 'back of envelope' on ex-colleagues' numbers for several biomass.
We have about >6M hectares of cultivable land here in the UK (works out at about 4 of our persons per plowable acre).
Get better yields only on better land in better locations, and that generalisation will include Miscanthus.
UK is a big per head importer of coal (once we were the world's biggest exporter - our production now is about 6% of our 'peak coal').
Even if we put Miscanthus on every plowable acre we would not match our coal imports in energy equivalent.
Scale matters.

Thanks Phil,

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.
Richard P. Feynman

It's pretty darn tough to get around those pesky laws of thermodynamics which have a tendency to crop up just about everywhere >;-)

I recall a study which analyzed the energy production from mixed grass production, such as once covered large areas of Tallgrass prairie in the Great Plains of the US. The results of the study indicated that such natural plant communities offered greater biomass production on an area basis than other proposed monoculture systems. Harvesting those grass lands and allowing them to grow back without cultivation and using the grasses in pellet form would appear to be an attractive proposition...

E. Swanson

The biomass production of those prairies would likely soon grind to a halt once you started removing that biomass. It is the recycling of that biomass back into the ecosystem that powers that productivity.


It is the recycling of that biomass back into the ecosystem that powers that productivity.

It's amazing how many folks are not able to see how this works! They just can't see the recycling input and make the assumption that this is a perpetual motion machine without inputs where you can draw off "output" forever.

Cool Planet Fuels returns biochar to the land for a carbon negative fuel production. This can be done, but if everyone listened to the nay sayers, the Wright Brothers would have never flown.

It's not just about carbon. And biochar is not bio-available anyway - that's why it does what it (purportedly) does.

It has nothing to do with the Wright Brothers. It has to do with well understood ecological reality.

There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

Every miracle plant I hear proposed for biomass or biofuels is claimed to grown on "marginal" land, with little or no "inputs", and to be drought tolerant. Yeah sure.

Cool Planet works with a company that specializes in Miscanthus. They have been growing it for a while and have special varieties.

Skeptics will never be convinced until they fill their car fuel tanks with blended synthetic and refined fuels. Then they let everyone know it was their idea all along!

Ah, special varieties! Of course, why didn't I think of that?

You know, I'm not skeptical about this because I'm "a skeptic". I'm skeptical because I'm an ecologist and know for a solid fact that this is as impossible a sustainable source of energy as is cold fusion or concentrating the uranium out of seawater or receiving the secret of zero-point energy from the Pink Unicorns.

You seem to believe that wishing something to be true makes it so.
Or an investor in this Cool Planet outfit.


Skeptics will never be convinced until they fill their car fuel tanks with blended synthetic and refined fuels. Then they let everyone know it was their idea all along!

This has nothing to do with ideas and everything to do with physical laws! Accepting the laws of thermodynamics has nothing to do with skepticism, quite the contrary actually.

As augjohnson made a point up thread:

It's amazing how many folks are not able to see how this works! They just can't see the recycling input and make the assumption that this is a perpetual motion machine without inputs where you can draw off "output" forever.

You seem hell bent on making his point for him

Perhaps this will help you understand where I'm coming from:


Ecosystem Thermodynamics by Aiko Huckauf

Now Jojoba is being cultivated in Israel and Rajasthan, India to provide a renewable source of unique high-quality oil. Much of the interest in jojoba worldwide is the result of the plant's ability to survive in a harsh desert environment. Jojoba can be grown as an oil-producing cash crop. Jojoba is very drought-resistant and can be grown on marginal lands without replacing any existing crops.

They discovered that the harsher the conditions, the worse the crop. The spiky bush makes the berries nasty to harvest by hand, and it's too tangled to harvest by machine. India invested millions, hoping to start a biodiesel industry. Wasted. Problem is, to get maximum yield you have to use land that is better used for food crops.

Very much agreed. As someone here said, the less you know about farming, the more enthusiastic you are about biofuels.

This post lays it out pretty well. Can we produce some biofuel? Sure. But it won't scale up to replace oil. And you cannot take from the land without giving back.

I agree that the nutrients are recycled, thus keeping the production levels high in a natural setting. However, any biomass system which removes the nutrients and does not return or replace then will experience reduced production over time. Sorry I can't give a reference, but I recall that the report compared mixed grasses with a switchgrass monoculture. I think the main point of the study was that given sufficient nutrients, a biomass energy system which mimics a natural mixed grass land would result in greater production than a monoculture...

E. Swanson

Hmm, how about anaerobic digestion from cup plant with 20% of the energy from wastes?

I do agree though that people need to know what they are talking about when putting forward biomass related assertions and i throw that one at both sides of the aisle. Agronomy and forestry parsers wanted, even if likely only of partial relief.

No particular argument with the laws of thermodynamics anyhow. But ecology belongs to the life science realm while thermodynamics is part of a philosophical science. Seems a priori not to make anymore sense than using fluid mechanics instead, so I didn't buy the link.

I did learn that you need to feed ten Brits per plowable hectare assuming self-suffiency versus about seven cars from German biomethane if my recollection is correct. Yet up to now food prices have been much more correlated to the price of crude than to acrage for biomass fuels, again from recollection. Devil's defence seys that biomass fuels have helped to restrain the rise of food prices via mitigation of oil price hikes. So i rather take authoritative literature on that if available, actually took some already but too lazy to undig it without anyone asking. Also because the professor's argument didn't seem watertight.

Anyway silly me as there are topics here I would rather post on than biomass fuels. Hope it helped with people making sense when they write on it.


No particular argument with the laws of thermodynamics anyhow. But ecology belongs to the life science realm while thermodynamics is part of a philosophical science. Seems a priori not to make anymore sense than using fluid mechanics instead, so I didn't buy the link.

I assume you mean physical science and not philosophical?

To be clear, to understand Biology and ecology you still need a strong grounding in physics and chemistry without which you certainly can't understand biochemistry. For your personal entertainment you might want to look into the thermodynamics of the Krebs cycle... In any case, perhaps I can sell you this link instead, even though CalGuy didn't buy it. The presentation is concise and very clear.

Ecosystem Thermodynamics by Aiko Huckauf


Since you mentioned philosophy let me give one of my favorite quotes from Richard Feynman

“A poet once said, 'The whole universe is in a glass of wine.' We will probably never know in what sense he meant it, for poets do not write to be understood. But it is true that if we look at a glass of wine closely enough we see the entire universe. There are the things of physics: the twisting liquid which evaporates depending on the wind and weather, the reflection in the glass; and our imagination adds atoms. The glass is a distillation of the earth's rocks, and in its composition we see the secrets of the universe's age, and the evolution of stars. What strange array of chemicals are in the wine? How did they come to be? There are the ferments, the enzymes, the substrates, and the products. There in wine is found the great generalization; all life is fermentation. Nobody can discover the chemistry of wine without discovering, as did Louis Pasteur, the cause of much disease. How vivid is the claret, pressing its existence into the consciousness that watches it! If our small minds, for some convenience, divide this glass of wine, this universe, into parts -- physics, biology, geology, astronomy, psychology, and so on -- remember that nature does not know it! So let us put it all back together, not forgetting ultimately what it is for. Let it give us one more final pleasure; drink it and forget it all!”

Thats all spot on, only at a different level of meaning. Funnily the Feynman quote sort of provides a convoluted image of the gist of my take.

First I can see from your reply that i came somewhat short on calling physics and thereby left some room to ambiguity. It was meant to say that physical science findings are rooted in philosophical and or logical constructs as is mathematics.

Thinking again there is also a cognitive part to it that i have been been missing, i.e. findings from observation.

And yet the differing motivations underlying the respective research bodies tend to make me feel uncomfortable with some generalizing recombinations from both domains. First occurence of this unease came with a couple variables i came across in ecological economics. Now thats an entirely different pair of shoes than using for instance appropriate statistical methodology to answer questions in psychology.

I would have fallen for Ecosystem Ecology research using thermodynamics, but you got the deal this time. After some sleep of mine.


mbnewtrain wrote:

this (cost for drilling) would be $364 billion. Cost per well will likely increase, especially as sweet spots are exhausted and drilling goes for thinner pay zones with lower porosity. Would not doubt that cost would be more like $500 to $600 billion.

Of course for $300 Billion to $500 Billion the US could easily pay a few billion to restore Green Transit to pre-2008 financial crash levels, build light Rail in the top 100 US metro areas, and restore passenger rail on our 233,000 miles of existing Rail. This is without diverting the billions of highway spending annually to Green Transit.
Which is the better investment given the calamity which just hit the Northeast with Hurricane Sandy, the Midwestern droughts over the summer, the record wildfires all over the US?

Can someone tell me about how many wells are in ghawar? I can't find a number, but I think it is in order of 1000. Including the information that 5 of those wells have produced most of the oil - I'm not sure if it is a reasonable comparison. But that's just me.


I have no idea but I did find this from TOD: Saudi Aramco Loses Count, Drills Too Many Wells In Ghawar

Using a variety of Ghawar well maps, I have determined the numerical identities for many of the wells. These are indicated in the figure below. Five of the observation wells (nos. 3, 27, 28, 41, and 43) were originally vertical wells drilled prior to 1990. Seven additional observation wells (1500-1506) were drilled at the start of the Haradh-III project.

So at the start of the Haradh-III project 1500 wells had been drilled. I don't know if that includes water injection wells or not.

But I can definitely say that five wells have not produced most of the oil. I have no idea where you got that bit of information from but is is nowhere close to being correct.

Ron P.

"Seven additional observation wells (1500-1506) were drilled"

Ron, those are not counts, but rather well identification numbers.

I figured as much but it appears that they are identifying them numerically as they are drilled.

Ron P.

About 3-4 times that:


And no, many more than 5 wells were needed to produced the bulk of the oil. Perhaps you remember reading about 5 Ghawar discovery wells:


but they are not out of the ordinary. But a Ghawar well pumping 10k bpd for decades is quite different than a Bakken well pumping a few hundred bpd for a couple of years with a rapid decay. Ghawar might hold less oil now, but any comparison is rather stretched.

Correct, I remembered that article but not the details. I will at least assume that the number n of production wells
5 < n < 1500 <<< 52,000.

Over 75 years.


the posit - "Is Bakken Set To Rival Ghawar?"

well yes ofcourse it is....... sort of ....... just not in the way portrayed

the Bakken will rival Ghawar because Ghawar is emptying fast and the Bakken isn't

job done ,Ghawar will die and the Bakken in reservc terms will rival it , just that you won't be getting much oil from it....
cheaply or otherwise .


mb - I think the primary problem with all production projections of the Bakken and oily shales is that folks, perhaps unknowingly or dishonestly, assume production from new wells is sustainable at something close to the initial rates being posted. Though not as severe as most of the shale plays the Bakken does have a significant and proven decline rate. The increased oil production has been the result of even more wells being drilled to replace the rapidly declining wells. For instance how did you come up with your 52,000 wells? Did you take the increased production vs. the number of wells drilled to date without taking into decline rates of new wells as they are drilled? If so you induced a very erroneous assumption. But perhaps you didn't. But it's easily shown that if all Bakken/shale oil wells were to stop being drilled today our "new oil surge" would go into the toilet in the blink of the eye. IOW just to maintain a flat production curve would require quit a few new wells. The Bakken is not a "field" as was stated in one article above. It is a trend. Ghawar is a field which contained wells that did not decline for decades and even today has a much lower decline rate than a typical Bakken/shale well.

But you make an excellent point about the capex needed just to maintain our current oil rate let alone increase it significantly. Consider the activity of the oil shale poster child: Chesapeake. In the last 3 years they've sold over $24 billion in assets to keep their ops funded. And by their own admission they are still almost $10 billion short of the future drilling budget. Then on top of that add the $14.1 billion in debt they had as of last Sept with much of it at almost 7% interest. And almost $4 billion in bonds due in the next 3 years. Several months ago CHK stated that their banker would only allow $4-5 billion more on their credit line. Throw in a possible softening of oil prices and it's difficult to imagine CHK hanging in there very long. They may be in a worse position then most shale players. But they are all wrestling with the same demon: high decline rates. Time will tell. BTW todate the most profitable Eagle Ford Shale player I've seen was Petrohawk. The sold their company with all that undeveloped EFS acreage for $12 bilion. And the company that bought them has just announced a major slow up in their driling plans.

Nice piece by Prof Patzek:


Esp. his first picture is interesting and could be used as reference.


Easy to pass by Ulenspiegel's link. I did a couple of times. A brief but a very interesting piece. Not a bad bio: Shell Oil researcher for 20 years and now heads the Un. of Texas Petrol. Eng. Dept. A nice 5 minute read.


If you missed that link in his article, check it out, when you have some time, it's a long read, maybe while you're waiting for some results to develop or something on a well, his thing on energy consumption and ethanol but he covers a lot of area in that paper in terms of sustainability and other areas that happy thinking likes to pretend don't exist.

I think this guy is a petroleum geologist too, are you sure you guys are as dense as you like to claim? Both this guy and you make more sense than most in general, must be related to having to deal with reality on a daily basis or something, hard to say.

I think this guy is a petroleum geologist too, are you sure you guys are as dense as you like to claim?

Well based on Ted Patzek's statement on his blog:

In this blog, I continue to write about the environment, ecology, energy, complexity, and humans. Of particular interest to me are human self-delusions and mad stampedes to nowhere.

In a way it kinda makes sense for a geologist to be interested in humans, perhaps he's found out that many humans are as smart as a bag of rocks... >;-)

From the fine article;

"I give ethanol zero energy credit, and want the ethanol refineries to bear the transportation and disposal costs of gluten feed and meal, as well as all other solid and liquid waste from ethanol production. Some of the environmental restoration costs will be included in the discussion of the carbon and water cycles in ethanol production from corn. In Section 3.12, I have already argued that all of the ethanol processing leftovers should be returned to the field to replenish soil humus and micro-elements."

He dumps high-grade cattle feed on the ground to rot, that way he can claim it has no value and make his numbers come out. Validity of paper equals zero.

At the very least feed the cows (or whatever), then put the manure on the fields. If you want to run the manure through a methane digester first, then put it on the fields even better, then you get another energy credit.

He dumps high-grade cattle feed on the ground to rot, that way he can claim it has no value and make his numbers come out. Validity of paper equals zero.

Apparently you didn't take the time to read the pdf, had you done so, you would not have written that. The question is on soil/humus strip mining, and in that pdf he specifically addressed the question of using manure, noting that it fails to build the soil, it's more of a fertilizer, that is.

It's useful to actually read things before commenting on them. Upthread as well there were some good comments about the problem of ignoring the ongoing destruction of soil in industrial agriculture.

I believe the author of the piece welcomes constructive feedback and wants his data to be as accurate as possible, but it is important to actually read it before noting errors. He's talking about the entire system, the ecosystem, not parts of it. Search for the word 'humus' in the pdf if you have search capability in your pdf reader, I think that's the sections that deal with soil destruction etc.

Industrial agriculture doesn't work long term, it's not sustainable, that's his key point, not that you can feed some short term waste products to cows to get some meat short term. Hard for him to have made the point any more clearly but apparently you missed it, the article is about sustainability.

"Apparently you didn't take the time to read the pdf, had you done so, you would not have written that. The question is on soil/humus strip mining, and in that pdf he specifically addressed the question of using manure, noting that it fails to build the soil, it's more of a fertilizer, that is."

Since I actually quoted the text above from the PDF, I obviously read it. And I find it another case where he made up his mind first, then went in to find the numbers to prove his conclusion.

Pimental pulled the same sort of nonsense.

The energy gain of ethanol is not better than 1.6, modestly positive. What value it has is converting natural gas to a liquid fuel, and as Fischer-tropsch will net you about 0.8 of the energy you put in you may be better off, if you you have a surplus of corn, which we did a few years ago. Not so much now.

Should they kill the subsidies? Yes indeed. If the ethanol producers go broke, then so be it. It's probably time to re-evaluate whether ethanol in the gas still makes sense given the current state of the automotive fleet too. At one time it did improve air quality without the poisonous effect of MTBE. is it still worth while, I don't know.


Ok, I was trying to be polite, let me restate it then, since you claim to have read the document. You clearly did not understand what you read due to some mental obstruction. The question is on sustainable methods, and the problem with industrial agribusiness mining of the soil is discussed, as I noted, this time with a link, upthread.

When someone misreads this badly I have to assume that there is an ideological barrier to thought in place, so I'm not going to spend the time trying to figure out what yours is, particularly since you now repeat your misreading and seem to be quite proud of the fact you missed the entire point of the pdf article.

Clearly, some numbers require ongoing adustment, but topsoil degradation via industrial farming is what it is, as is complete reliance on primarily carbon fuel based inputs at every step. The fact you focus so narrowly on the short term return on energy demonstrates that you are apparently unwilling to read the words, I can't fix this problem for you, sorry, you have to work that out for yourself. Zero point in wasting time talking to people who are unable to follow simple logic or discussion, good luck with whatever it is you hope happens.

Tad Patzek's presentations at ASPO have been some of the highlights for me over the last few years. I am looking forward to this year because he (or his department) is hosting the ASPO meeting and I hope that means he will have a lot to say at the meeting.

That meeting should be something considering this last IEA "report", hope a lot of noise(good one) comes out of it !
When in the PO story for quite some time we easily tend to forget the mass of people simply not aware and taking these "info" at face value.

Agreed. Was a good read.

I agree. In a post to the October 24 Drumbeat, I asked the question

So, the question is, what exactly are the "other liquid hydrocarbons" that the US is producing roughly 4.5 mbpd of? Data that I could find suggests that biofuels (ethanol and bio-diesel) contribute less than 1 mbpd. Where does the other 3+ mbpd come from and why don't Russia and Saudi Arabia produce these "other liquid hydrocarbons" in a similar ratio to their crude oil production?

The good professor's piece basically answered that question completely!

Alan from the islands

ROCK, when I read about Bakken production I'm reminded of the old country boy saying:"Dogs that sh*t fast, don't sh*t long."

It seems like the production curves for North Dakota might be different than other places. If they produce one half million barrels per day, will they continue to do that for the next 30 years? I doubt that they will.

If that is the case, then the prediction of relative energy independence within the next 10 years might be WAY off the mark. We don't need to be lulled into another situation like the North Slope nor North Sea where lots of oil is foreseen, so alternatives can be ignored.

Another interesting economic shock scenario could transpire. Companies invest hundreds of billions of dollars into expensive oil production only to have lower cost producers wipe them off the map, for obvious reasons.

My own prediction (and this is out on a limb a bit) is the North Dakota oil production in November 2013 will be very slightly lower than November 2012.

The Bakken boom will fade shortly IMVHO, and this will make some predictions look quite foolish,


I wonder if today's hoopla over future American energy - the IEA "study" up top, and its mirror in the MSM (it was the top story today on NPR, both All Things Considered and Marketplace), is a desperate attempt to drum up new investors. The last hoorah of this ponzi scheme, before they "run out of suckers"?

To their credit, the Marketplace coverage did include a short clip from somebody who voiced skepticism regarding the shale boom. I was only half-listening so I'm not sure, but I think they said it was Art Berman!

Even NHK had it as their top story. In my book anyone who buys this claim is dumber than a sack of rocks (rocks don't repeat propaganda).


The 52,000 wells is the number Harold Hamm of Continental Resources put out about reaching the desired max production for Bakken/Three Forks formation. That would mean 5200 wells drilled per year. From what I have seen in ND, I doubt the suppliers can keep up with enough pressure rigs, storage tanks, frac sand, drill pipe, valves for MRC, etc. Maybe the suppliers can ramp up but the cost will be higher than they are now paying. A lot of the equipment could be transferred from other areas like shale gas plays that are not profitable, but then what happens to nat. gas production in a couple years (high deccline rate also)?

For comparison, the Permian Basin has 80,000 active wells, out of 130,000 drilled. It's produced 29B barrels of oil. 9,000 permits in 2011, with 400+ rigs. A well every 2 or 3 weeks per rig is pretty good -- can't easily do that in the Bakken.

Of course this is an area with all the infrastructure you could want...and it's still inadequate for current needs, though total production is still well below historical maximums (except condensate, which is way up).

The uptick in the Permian is not due to fracking, though. Simply due to higher prices, though some lateral drilling is part of it.

There are a LOT of new fields being considered elsewhere too. Limestones, sandstones, etc. Source rocks for many depleted fields are being drilled, many with good results. At least some flow more readily than shales, but for how long?

And Permian Basin has been producing for 80 years or more?

Typical Bakken well has several laterals from main well, each fractured in stages. Time and cost to complete a Bakken well is much higher than wells in Permian Basin, maybe by a factor of three or four, IMHO. Also, the decline rate is typically 40 - 50% for Bakken wells, so many will not produce economical quanitities of oil after 10 or 15 years. Furthermore, enhanced oil recovery by water or gas injection appears not productive at todays oil prices. Besides fractured rock formation may allow water or gas to bypass any remaining oil rather than oil being driven out. This is based on what I have read at NDoil.org and other sites.

Bottom line; I just don't see Bakken replicating Permian Basin, east Texas or other older oil producing areas.

The estimate that John Kemp of Reuters makes is based on this:

At the moment the industry has completed just 5,000 wells in the Bakken at an average spacing of less than 1 well per 1,280-acre unit. But Continental estimates the core could support up to 52,000 wells with four to eight wells per 1,280-acre unit for full development. Bakken contains about 577 billion barrels of oil and gas, of which about 24 billion barrels should be technically recoverable, according to Continental. But underneath Bakken in the same area is the Three Forks formation, which Continental believes could contain an even greater 900 billion barrels, of which perhaps 32 billion barrels might be technically recoverable.

Continental's estimates are probably coloured by a developer's natural optimism. But the company has been the leading innovator in what has become North America's hottest oil play, and it has been proven consistently right. More conservative estimates still show that the combined resources of the Bakken and Three Forks are enormous.

The USGS estimates up to 4.4 billion barrels of crude oil is technically recoverable from Bakken. Packing wells closer together will probably result in less total oil from each well. I guess he means that 5,000 well have been drilled in the Bakken during the last 4 years. No time interval is specified for drilling up to 52,000 wells (47,000 more to go). To do this during the next 8 years would require an average of 5,875 new wells per year. Are there enough drilling rigs, water, fracking chemicals and workers to sustain this rate of drilling assuming 56 billion barrels of URR from both formations?

With a cost of $7 million to drill each well and a price of $100 / barrel for the oil, each well must produce 70,000 barrels of oil to break even ignoring the cost of production and distribution. 3.6 billion barrels must be extracted from 52,000 wells to break even. The USGS estimate would have to be incorrect for the oil companies to make profit.

The article states the output from Bakken was 631,000 barrels/day in August 2012. The average production for the current 5,000 wells is 126 b/d. To get to 5 Mb/d one needs 39,600 wells with this average rate of production. This estimate assumes the production from the older wells drilled in 2008 will not decrease and produce at least 552,000 barrels each over 12 years. Yet the average well in the Bakken does not have this production profile. From Rune Likvern's article here at TOD, Is Shale Oil Production from Bakken Headed for a Run with “The Red Queen”?, Sept. 25, 2012, figure 15:

the average well is down to about 14 b/d after 12 years. Over 12 years they produce less than 300,000 barrels. Far more than 52,000 wells would have to be drilled over a 12 year period to get production up to 5 Mb/d.

Is Bakken set to rival Ghawar? No

Thanks for just dropping it in their so easy to digest and visualize and all. According your figures, highly simplified, it would require 80,000 wells.

300000/12/365=68.5 avg per day


Because the production from the average well declines so quickly, the maximum rate of production from the entire Bakken depends critically on the number of wells drilled in the last 3 to 4 years. For example:

present year: 10,000 wells, average 80,000 b/year/well
last year: 5,000 wells, average 40,000 b/year/well
2 years ago: 2,500 wells, average 25,000 b/year/well
3 years ago: 1,250 wells, average 15,000 b/year/well
4 years ago: 625 wells, average 12,000 b/year/well
5 years ago: 313 wells, average 10,000 b/year/well
6 years ago: 157 wells, average 9,000 b/year/well

Over this 7 year period of hypothetical drilling, the production rate in the current year would be 2.96 Mb/d with 19,845 wells drilled. If the oil companies drill 20,000 wells next year, then the production would easily exceed 5 Mb/d with only 39,845 wells drilled surpassing Ghawar.

The constraints are how much oil can ultimately be extracted and the number of wells that can be drilled per year. I have doubts that 5,000 wells/year could be drilled and fracked.

If the drilling rate reaches a maximum of 6,000 wells/year, then:

present year: 6,000 wells, average 80,000 b/year/well
last year: 6,000 wells, average 40,000 b/year/well
2 years ago: 6,000 wells, average 25,000 b/year/well
3 years ago: 6,000 wells, average 15,000 b/year/well
4 years ago: 6,000 wells, average 12,000 b/year/well
5 years ago: 3,000 wells, average 10,000 b/year/well
6 years ago: 1,500 wells, average 9,000 b/year/well
7 years ago: 750 wells, average 8,000 b/year/well
8 years ago: 375 wells, average 7,000 b/year/well
9 years ago: 188 wells, average 6,300 b/year/well
10 years ago: 94 wells, average 5,600 b/year/well
11 years ago: 47 wells, average 5,000 b/year/well

present year production rate: 2.97 Mb/d
total wells: 35,954
80% of the production is from the 18,000 wells drilled over the last 3 years.

The drilling rate would have to level out at about 10,000 wells/year to achieve 5 Mb/d with ~60,000 wells drilled and fracked over 12 years. That is an astonishing rate of drilling, water consumption and fracking fluid use.

"With a cost of $7 million to drill each well and a price of $100/barrel...."

The economics of the Bakken oil are not as good as this by a long shot. Because most of oil must use a truck making a 50 to 200 mile round trip, then handled in a unit train to midwest or east coast refinery/pipeline terminal, the oil is sold at the wellhead for $10 below NYMX. Right now they are getting about $75/barrel. Until Keystone XL is built, the truck & rail scenario will continue, and railroads boast of "pricing power" which allows them to increase shipping rates at whim. Only two railroads are in the Bakken region, BNSF which has a northern route and southern route, and Canadian Pacific which has a route close to the NE corner of the Bakken formation.

Blue T - Excellent summary. You highlight what almost every optimistic projection does: they don't take into account the decline rates of new wells. Obviously the worse offense deals with the high decline rates of the oily shales and to a somewhat lesser extent with the Bakken. Then throw in "technically recoverable" reserves which essentially means those unknown economic condition many years or decades down the road will continue to spur drilling on. The NG shale bust in late '08 shows the potential error of that thinking.

Could we drill another 50,000+ wells in the Bakken? Yes...if oil prices get high enough. That's the unstated portion of the potential to decrease drill spacing theory. While some leases might produce similar results to the initial drill many won't. Needless to say there are different motivations for wider spacing such as holding more acreage by production by drilling a lesser number of wells. Then come back when the pressure to hold acreage lessens and drill more infield wells. Having some infrastructure in place also eases the economic requirements of additional wells. But it doesn't change the fact that infield drilling in a fractured reservoir doesn't always result in equivalent success as the initial wells.

The other major misrepresentation is that the undrilled wells will be tapping areas with equivalent production capability as the earlier wells. That has never been the case in any trend ever developed in the history of the US oil patch that I've seen. For instance the Bakken had been drilled vertically and frac'd for many decades. Operators had already delineated the better areas which they naturally started applying horizontal well bores first. Doesn't mean there weren't more unknown sweet spots to find...just not as many as had been delineated early. All one has to do is look at the map of all existing Bakken wells and it should be obvious that companies are not randomly drilling but are focused on discrete trends within the trend. It should follow that the areas left for expanding the play do not appear as economically attractive. Which brings us full circle back to "technically recoverable" reserves. I've no doubt that an extended period of $150+/bbl oil prices would lead to much of those reserves being developed. My doubts about such a prediction is the ability of our economy sustaining consumption at such price levels without inducing significant demand destruction.

"Then come back when the pressure to hold acreage lessens and drill more infield wells. Having some infrastructure in place also eases the economic requirements of additional wells."

By using this method it must also be possible to use cheaper infrastructure with less capacity over a longer period of time. I guess more accurate estimates of production will also be possible.


Presently I am about to complete the works with dynamic simulations for developments of shale oil in Bakken. Below is a “sneak peek” of where I am now, I expect some changes but the general picture is as of now expected not to change.

The chart shows the result from the simulations for Company using “average” wells that yields 100 000 bbls (crude oil) during the first 12 months of production (hard data from NDIC suggests this number now is in the region of 90 - 95 000 bbls for the first 12 months) in Bakken North Dakota. Transparent colors shows simulated development.

Company considers to maintain present additions of wells of about 100 per year through 2020.

A slow build up in production results from this. Somewhere between 1 700 - 1 800 wells are expected to be added during 2012 in Bakken North Dakota (ND). The simulations may be viewed as a simulation of all Bakken (ND) at a scale of about 1:14.
At end of 2020 no more wells are added, and the decline in production follows a shark fin, and is likely halved in less than 2 years.

How average productivity of future wells will develop remains to be seen, if well productivity grows then the production buildup is stronger and if well productivity declines with time the buildup will be weaker (more like a plateau).
The simulations then feed the production data to do economic analysis which estimates net cash flows (several oil price scenarios and cash flow needs should not be confused with earnings), need for funding (debt or otherwise), development in total debt, NPVs etc.

The scenario shown in the chart above involves deferring the tail of fat earnings and thus reduces Net Present Value (NPV).
It turns out that access to funding is very important for the future developments in Bakken and the companies’ abilities to carry debt (debt overhead). On the other side what mortgage/securities the lenders are offered) and the lenders will monitor the debt development, production and oil price developments of the companies they lend to. Then follows the story of debt seniority, debt maturity etc.

Companies’ management/boards are aware of the price fluctuations of the oil price and thus will have to look for strategies that both make the company profitable and resilient to these (oil price) swings. And management/boards make their decisions (informed expectations) on hard available facts.

The results from the simulations and the economic evaluations suggest that a company that follows a “careful” strategy; that is moderate debt levels achieves two important advantages;

1. It gets a competitive advantage due to lower specific interest (financial) costs; that is interest costs per barrel produced and interest costs may get as high as $4/bbl (at 6% interest and at present oil prices, cost levels etc.) so even after tax, interest costs becomes a drag on the economics.

2. Lower debt levels makes a company more resilient to declines in the oil price (price growth is always an incentive for increased activities).

Debt-strapped companies become vulnerable for buy ups by creditors or cash rich competitors.
So companies have to decide upon;

To continue on the debt treadmill adding a high number of producing wells and growth in production or to get ahead of the debt treadmill and improve margins and become more resilient?

It turns out; The “Red Queen” has a little invisible nephew named “Debt”.

- Rune


Thanks you for your very well done analysis!

I have one suggestion, found universally in every play. The best spots get drilled first. Production from new wells declines over time in a given play (2018 wells are not as good as 2015 wells).

The slope of this decline is very uncertain - but it is simply unrealistic to have no decline.

*IF* the last well in 2020 was as good as a 2012 well, why not drill one, or one hundred, more wells in 2021 ?

A separate graph needs to show well production by new wells declining over time to breakeven in 2020.

More complexity - but reality is complex.


Hello Alan and thanks!

Yes, I have also done simulations and economic evaluations with declining well productivity.

Normally it is to be expected that well productivity will decline with time as it should be expected that developments of shale plays follows the same patterns as other developments for mineral extraction, the sweetest spots are extracted first. In any basin and I assume as well for shale plays new knowledge have led to new understandings and chances are for positive surprises (on the upside), if not game changing…so positive …very much like the recent Johan Sverdrup discovery (1,8 Gb) in The North Sea which I understand some geologists did not expect as oil then would have migrated in the “wrong” direction. Other geologists had a diverging understanding and got it right. Just shows that nature does not care about our prevailing views.

If well productivity declines (which is I hold likely, how much remains to be seen) a point will be reached where companies will not drill if the economics does not justify it. In that respect total production is likely to decline.

I agree reality is complex, but that is also what I find intriguing about reality.
- Rune

How much well productivity decline have we seen (an increase is also possible due to being on the early side of the learning curve) ?



The data I have used approaches 20% of the wells started between January 2010 and September 2011 (12 months of cumulative production) and are in very prolific areas like Sanish and Van Hook and/or from companies having above average wells and approximately half of the wells used has been chosen on random (not by me!! but an unknowing third person) to cover as wide a part of Bakken and as many companies as possible, thus chances are that the average well represents a cross section of Bakken that now have activities in North Dakota.

Based on data so far they show that well productivity (first 12 months of production) declined by around 30% from the summer of 2010 to the summer of 2011. I do not believe this should be extrapolated into the future.

It appears that wells with high cumulative for the first 12 months also have highest declines from year 1 to year 2 (this is a general trend and the numbers are all over the place) and wells with lower cumulative have lower declines from year 1 to 2.

Newer wells (started from September 2011 and later show (so far) a mixed performance and as of now I would not expect much changes for newer wells relative to what data show for wells started earlier in 2011.


-30% in twelve months is a breathtaking decline - I agree that a data anomaly may magnify the effect, and such a trend cannot continue for long before Bakken drilling slows to a crawl.

What do you make of my prediction (not yours) that North Dakota crude oil production (Bakken + conventional#) for November 2013 will be very slightly lower than November 2012 ?

A risky but quite possible prediction ?

# ND conventional production is on a steady decline, so Bakken can increase slightly and the total can still be -0.3%.



It is all about the oil price and the decline rate for individual wells which are hard to predict.

Presently the futures market expects a slight decline in the WTI and I have looked at the income statements and balance sheets for some of the companies active in Bakken and they have one thing in common; rapid growth in debt levels not that this now is critical in itself, but could become the nightmares (or some would call it bloodbaths) of some companies if oil prices weakens say $10/bbl.

Going into 2013 signs now are that activity levels in Bakken (ND) will be around the levels of 2012.
Debt (and perhaps access to it) I think will become an issue for many companies going forward, so that may motivate some companies to lower activities (CAPEX) as less debt improves profit margins and builds resilience towards a weaker oil price. Lenders may also be skeptic to extend credit lines if they start to worry about the effects from a lower oil price.

Predictions about the future are always difficult, but a weakened oil price and high debt may drive push to shove, so chances now are also for slower growth and even slight declines.

- Rune

I must say I disagree that debt will be a problem for these companies. I think it *should* be a problem, but I suspect when push comes to shove and if real oil shortages were to appear imminent, the government would just step in and provide guaranteed financing to whomever promises to increase production. It won't work forever, however assuming there actually is a functioning government at the time, it should extend the timeline by a number of years.

I hope I did not use the word “problem”, but used issue. As of now I have not seen anything suggesting debt is a problem, but for a commercial run company it is something to be focused on and so will the lenders.

High debt levels increases costs.

If it comes to that government needs to guarantee financing, things move down a different path. Such a move in itself is a clear signal of a paradigm change and possibly an open admission of the end of “cheap” oil and a constrained supply situation.
- Rune

I think will become an issue for many companies going forward, so that may motivate some companies to lower activities (CAPEX) as less debt improves profit margins and builds resilience towards a weaker oil price.

Debt (because of interest payments) may lower profit margins, but it generally (as long as cost of debt < return of equity) increased return on equity, which is the important metric.

The DuPont analysis shows how profit margins are but one input into ROE calculations, alongside financial leverage (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DuPont_analysis)

I also think it is problematic, for purposes of your analysis to consider debt as identical in all cases (although you are probably no doing so). Debt for exploration is often on a project finance (or non-recourse basis), so it does not impact the viability of the corporate (versus the project) entity.

Hello Jack and thanks!

Yes debt leveraging has been widely used to increase return on equity.

Lenders will not throw "unlimited" funds at a company, they want mortgage/security in some form.

In the example I presented there was no debt limit, free flow of funds.

What I have been wrestling with is to find where a company goes into debt saturation (ratio of debt to equity and/or ratio of debt to (equity + estimated net cash flow for some years (or similar)).

The model does not consider debt as identical in all cases (actually the model allows to put a roof on debt and it is for this purpose that I have wrestled with finding an approximate and good metric that may be used for all cases). These things varies between companies.

A "rough" rule seems to suggest that a ratio of debt to annual earnings of around 3 is a limit, but this is still deceptive in my view.

Again thanks for your time and advice.

Technically, I think you would calculate debt saturation as being the point at which additional debt decrease the value of a company, rather than increases it. This change is caused by the marginal cost of debt increasing with higher debt levels until cost of debt is higher than cost of equity (CoD>CoE).

I don't know how to model this exactly. I have done things in the past using a system like that of the rating agencies (AA, A, BB, etc.), increasing the CoD as the company meets various debt load measures. However, this would be quite complicated and would require some form of cost of equity assumption.

I should have been more precise in describing debt in the model as identical. What I meant that some debt lives at the project level and is secured by the assets of the project alone, with the parent company insulated. However, I understand that even project level debt would appear on parent financial statements, if they owned a controlling share, or had otherwise provided a guarantee.

I should also note that debt and equity are the main categories of capital available for a company, but there are a lot of hybrid type products. Preferred shares count as equity, but have debt-like features. Mezzanine debt is called debt, but is quite close to being equity.

I think it is extremely unlikely that governments would guarantee large amounts for debt except in extreme circumstances. Rising oil prices would make financing easier, as long as markets were anywhere near normal.

Now I understand that Jack was serious about disproving the forecast.

My quick 2 cents - don't forget that credit is very fickle. You can work out what makes sense in terms of leverage, debt saturation but you can't figure out when bankers realize this. So the "animal spirits" or boom/bust come into play in a significant way. But I'm all for trying to make out what makes the most sense for these businesses, what happens to the economy, what happens to everything. This is a very interesting discussion and one that isn't even touched with a 10 foot pole in the MSM.

And if there's sacred equity anywhere in the world it would be that of the 'seven sisters'.

Now I understand that Jack was serious about disproving the forecast.

You've now said that twice and have been wrong both times. I never said anything about disproving a forecast.

Rebuttal was Leanan's word, but I don't think she has misused it.


You probably should have paid more attention to this part of my comment:

And if you disagreed with something, but had no value to add the discussion, you would keep your mouth shut, not just start slinging insults.

Actually it was meant as a compliment. Interesting you took it as an 'insult' this time around. I may go back and see what point you are really trying to make Jack. Sorry in any case, I misread it the first time and didn't see any evidence of you pouncing on it to make me aware of it in the meantime. As far as me not contributing, Ill see how much resistance I get from others, not just you. We can both be careless and not address the essence of what each other is saying! But I will be careful to quote you correctly, and if it is really so disruptive to the debate I'm sure someone will erase my comment.

I also disagree with Jack below about the TOD Brain Trust having to do a rebuttal. I think in the past the "brain trust" pointed out all the things that have to go right for a wildly optimistic or poorly defined surge in production were to come true. That is different than disproving it. You can't disprove a forecast, you can only make a more believable or easy to follow forecast yourself.

OK. I'll take your word for it that there is a compliment in there somewhere. No problem in any case, you can feel free to disagree with me at any time. But since you brought up the "disproving a forecast" thing twice, I did want to clarify the situation.

I don't have any desire to tell you how much to comment, or the authority for it to mean anything if I did. But given that you jut registered on TOD a week ago, I would think you would want to be considerate enough to ensure that you are adding to, not detracting from the overall conversation. I do think quality, not quantity should be the guideline. But, I am not the politeness police, so do what you want.

I don't expect to have to worry much about this. Usually people who show up and blast out comments in volume don't stick around long enough for it to be a problem. Maybe you'll be different. Who knows.

Actually I didn't check you out carefully enough. I reacted to the reaction you gave to the post preceding yours. I started misinterpreting you from there as though you were dissing a problem which didn't exist, and that is that people weren't analytical enough or at least drawing the correct conclusions. I thought my second post, although still not quoting you correctly was more of a complement. I guess I forgot Rune (and perhaps others) did simulations of this exactitude and that they are really fascinating because they are so precisely defined. The kinds of analyses we should easily be able to expect from an IEA. So I realized immediately you'd made a quite a legitimate point and I wanted to take back the earlier blunder but blundered doing so. And of course there's a bit of excitement right now which will dissipate. I will likely not add much to the the high level analysis here, but I want to make it clear how I feel as an economist who's been wrestling with this for a while and maybe steer things a bit to consider other aspects to the analysis. Maybe stuff that is more useful to the other people visiting this site for the first or second time.

One thing I'm really surprised by though is how few economists, even the ones I respect to an extent, are writing anything serious about PO. BTW, I'm not a professional economist.

OK. No problem. It is easy to misinterpret things in this format. Let's move on.

James Hamilton is a respected economist who writes serious things about PO.



I should have been more precise. With debt saturation I meant debt levels where lenders start to get worried about return of capital.

Simulations shows that if drilling continued as oil prices dropped from say $90/bbl to $75/bbl companies could either scale back developments or increase debt.

If they choose to increase debt, then total debts rise (debt costs as well) and defers the point in time at which the companies are able to pay back their debts. My guess is that lenders would have a say in such a situation and it could also be that the lenders makes the decision for the companies by not extending credit based on outlooks about lower earnings.

Some debt is mortgage against assets, but still will appear on the company’s balance sheet.
A “rough” rule seems to suggest that total debt above 3 times earnings makes things brittle.

What few realize is that earnings also include recovery of previous investments and some of the earnings of a company is already allocated for investments, lease agreements or other financial obligations like pensions.

Main purpose of this is to make and present "crude" estimates that shows ball park numbers for a generic company.
Big majors may get a price (interest) on debt below 2%, the "average company needs to do a lot of shopping to get 7% (which they find to be a good deal).


Does your production model take into account the lower price Bakken oil fetches due to transportation issues (truck and rail shipping) that decrease it by $8 to $10 per barrel compared to WTI on NYMX? This price disparity may decline after Keystone XL is operating in 2015 or later.


What the model now does (this may be adjusted as required) is to use a realized price of $90/bbl (I am aware that presently the WTI on NYMEX is slightly below). The realized price of $90/bbl is to incorporate possible effects from hedging and based on "average" oil quality in Bakken.

From the realized price ($90/bbl) a transport cost (now often (also by EIA) cited to be about $12/bbl) is deducted to get to the price fetched at the wellhead (normally it is this gross wellhead price taxes and royalties are based upon, some operators may have agreements to have OPEX deducted prior to royalties).

The model handles changes in transport costs (and other costs like well costs, OPEX....even taxes) over time, so it is possible to see the effects from changes in most of the important economic parameters.

- Rune

Holy Hanna! The decline get steeper for every well you add! When there are no more new wells to add, caboma!

Much shorter life compared to Ghawar ;)

This gives some information on how to use the high-voltage, large capacity batteries in the Prius to run small appliances via the 12 volt system with a 12 V DC to 120 V AC inverter.

This is a continuation of a conversation from yesterday's Drumbeat. Looking through this PDF, I don't see anything about two important issues:

* when does the Prius operate its DC-DC converter so as to transfer power from the big (traction) battery to the 12V battery - does the car needs to be "turned on"? (You don't really "start up" a Prius, it's more like "booting is up" :-)

* how is he proposing to charge the traction battery? Presumably by running the gasoline engine.

So what does all this achieve that running an inverter off the 12V battery of a typical non-hybrid car can't? Apparently only longer periods of operation between engine-on charging events.

The Prius traction battery, without recharging, can only power a refrigerator for about one day. Note that a refrigerator is a "battery" on its own, in the sense that it stores energy: you only need to run it once in a few hours to keep it reasonably cool.

I am not a Prius owner -- however, by looking at the Prius manuals at the Toyota web site, it would appear that you have to put the hybrid system in the ignition on mode and the transmission selector in Park in order to have the 200 V battery charge the 12 V system. In this condition, the engine will operate periodically in order to maintain the charge of 200 V battery.

This is probably a lot more efficient than operating off a conventional 12 V battery since a larger percentage of the engine power is used by the larger generator to charge the 200 V battery while the engine runs, and the duty cycle of engine on/off to maintain the 200 V battery would be a lot less. However, I can't quantify the effect.

There has been a lot of discussion about electric vehicles as part of a smart grid approach to smoothing the power from intermittant sources such as wind or solar. It is interesting to contemplate how they may be used to improve reliability, availability, and disaster recovery.

You can leave a Prius in "idle" and the engine will only run as needed to maintain enegine heat and battery charge, so it doesn't have to have the ICE running continuously. If your draw is small, the motor/generator can run only part of the time, using the battery as a buffer. I'm not at all sure if the traction battery gets involved in charging the 12volt, maybe its just that the engine is designed for easy cycle between start/stop.

U.S. Naval Academy radio amateur
Field Day Prius Power

"(The 12-volt battery recharges automatically while the hybrid system is operating.)"

The computer controlled engine and battery system provides a unique opportunity to make a Prius into an intelligent, gas powered, UPS. Testing revealed this can provide ~1 kW of 110 VAC, enough to power a gas furnace.

Prius electrical simplified block diagram with attached inverter:


...it's not like charging a car battery or running some small loads from a generator or in an ordinary car -which is a total waste of gas-... and it's not like having a generator hammering away all the time so that it can service some intermittent big load (like a motor starting). It's an inverter hooked up to a good-sized battery bank with high-current charging from an auto-start generator.

The Prius battery is only about 1300 watt hours. Only about 3 times as much as a typical 12V car battery.

A pair of golf cart batteries has much more capacity.

My solar powered golf cart has 6 X 6VDC X 200AMP batteries. This is total 7200 WATTS or about 5000 usable. I run this through a very efficient 36VDC -> 110VAC converter for various tools, lights, etc. It would be bad to run the Prius Traction Battery very long or very hard because the replacement is thousands and not hundreds of dollars. How many Prius owners have an extra set of batteries in the garage just in case?

re-check your traction battery total watts. My model airplane has a 1500 WH battery.

Your model airplane must be large! The Prius battery, from what I've found, is about 1300 WH.

Seriously...that better be a 1/4 scale model of a C130...

2nd Gen uses 38 "blades" (6 cell) NiMH of 6.5A*H capacity...but they limit the charge range to something like 40-60% with some float above that for regen (which is bled off quickly).

38 blade * 6 cell/blade * 1.2v/cell * 6.5 AH = 1778 watt-hours
1778 * 0.20 = 356 watt-hours
1778 * 0.35 = 622 watt-hours?

I'm not sure about the % range...can't find any reliable source on that, but I'd expect it to be a little higher than 20%, probably more towards 35% (622 watt-hours). It's quick to give up the overhead, floats back and forth a lot in the middle and is stingy with the last bit.

I think 1300 is about right. I have a new plugin model, that is only rated at 4.4 KWhours, so far the most power its sucked on a recharge is 3.1 KWhours. How heavy is your airplane battery?

Note that the mentioned 1300 WH is not the same as 1300KWH, DUH!. 4.4KWH is 4400 WH or about three times his quote of 1300WH. Please read the post first.

It was 4.4 KWH for the plug-in model, and only 1.3 KWH for the non-plug-in hybrid model.

Still curious, Lynford, about that model airplane of yours, how big is it? How heavy the battery? Seems like 1.5 KWH would be many pounds, even if it's a lithium battery?

The plane is a 2 meter electric glider. The battery weighs a couple ounces. It can climb to 500 feet in about 80 seconds. This is typical of the type. Something is wrong with your EE certificate.

OK, cool. I've seen such model gliders in action. But I'd bet the battery is FAR smaller than 1.5KWH. I don't have an EE, but anybody who would invent a 2-ounce 1.5KWH battery is guaranteed the Nobel prize! Perhaps it's 1500 mWH or 1500 mAH? The battery in a smartphone these days is typically 3.7V and about 1300 mAH, i.e., about 3.7x1.3 = 5 watt-hours, or 0.005 KWH.

For comparison, the 4 golf cart batteries in my basement, which in total weigh 280 pounds, store about 5 KWH in total. They're lead-acid, thus heavy, but lithium batteries are less than a factor of 10 better in energy density.

BTW, if the glider weighs 1 kg (2 pounds) and climbs 150 meters (500 feet) that's an energy gain of about 1x150x10 = 1500 joules (that last factor of 10, or 9.81 if you want to be more exact, being the gravity constant). That's only 1500/3600 = 0.42 watt-hours (3600 being the number of seconds in an hour). (Sorry, I only know how to do this in metric units - I studied physics, not engineering :-)

As Tom "do the math" Murphy has said, a battery the size of your pinky beats the 800-pound gorilla in energy storage (assuming the gorilla is being used as an inert mass, raised onto your roof).

Please settle this by posting the make and model number of your battery.


At towerhobbies.com the largest batteries are around 200WH.

Maybe Lynford has something like this:

It has a 2.6kwh battery.

The lithium ion battery in one of my notebook computers weights about a pound and is rated at 10.8 VDC and 4300 mAh which is 46.4 Wh compared to yours which weighs a couple ounces and has 1300 Wh.

How do you have a lithium battery that has about 200 times the energy density of my notebook battery?

Must be something like this:Hobbyking ASK21

1300mAh 3s ~ 2200mAh 3s Lipoly Battery

I struggle to understand the specifications of a Turnigy 2200mAh 3S 20C Lipo Pack

Minimum Capacity: 2200mAh (True 100% Capacity)
Configuration: 3S1P / 11.1v / 3Cell
Constant Discharge: 20C
Peak Discharge (10sec): 30C
Pack Weight: 185g
Pack Size: 103 x 33 x 24mm
Capacity(mAh) 2200
Config(s) 3
Discharge(c) 20
Weight(g) 185
Max Charge Rate (C) 2

Are the discharge and charge rates specified in Coulombs instead of Amperes? That makes no sense.

If it is 2200 mAh at 11.1 V, then it stores 24.4 Wh and weights 185 g or .41 pounds which makes sense.

"Are the discharge and charge rates specified in Coulombs instead of Amperes? That makes no sense."

Yup. On both accounts. It's weird and I certainly haven't figured out why...must be a legacy thing within the R/C world.

What really gets me is that the pack Voltage is defined by the number of cells in series - so you have to know the voltage of the chemistry used to calculate what it actually is.

In this case 3S1P...3 series, 1 parallel of LiPo @ 3.7 volts per cell. 3 * 3.7V = 11.1V. If this were the same 3S1P in LiFePO4 it would be 3* 3.2V = 9.6V. If it were NiMH it would be 3 * 1.2 = 3.6V. All are "3S1P" but they have vastly different voltages from each other. That should really drive you bonkers.

What is the C-rate?


Most portable batteries are rated at 1C, meaning that a 1,000mAh battery that is discharged at 1C rate should under ideal conditions provide a current of 1,000mA for one hour. The same battery discharging at 0.5C would provide 500mA for two hours, and at 2C, the 1,000mAh battery would deliver 2,000mA for 30 minutes. 1C is also known as a one-hour discharge; a 0.5C is a two-hour, and a 2C is a half-hour discharge.

Effectively "C" equals the amp hour rating of the battery. So in the above example "Discharge(c) 20" equals 2.2*20 or a discharge rate of 44 amps. Or a short duration peak 66 amps. For $7.89 this is one potent battery.

Makes it simpler to state the ratings for any given type of battery.

Lynford, You sure that isn't 1500 MWH.

Read my comment right above.

BTW: 1500 MWH is 1500 million watt Hours.

No. "1500 MWH" is 1500 Milli Watt Hours. A quite standard battery rating. Which BTW is equal to 1.5 KWH. And quite believable as a rating for a model airplane battery.

1500 mWH is 1500 milli-watt-hours = 1.5 watt hours. 1500 MWH = 1500 Mega-Watt-Hours = 1,500,000,000 watt hours.
m = milli = 1/1000
M = Mega = 1,000,000
See here. Case matters!

OK, and that "K" jumped into my post above without my permission.

Damned 'K' :-)

No, 1500 mWH is milliwatt-hours. Electrical Engineers unite!

You mean like Dr. Emmett Brown?

"One Point Twenty One JigaWatts?! ONE POINT TWENTY ONE JIGAWATTS!!?? .. "

"I'm sure that in 1985, plutonium is available in every corner drugstore, but in 1955, it's a little hard to come by!!"

The IEA report reminds me of the Goldman Sachs forecast from last year, the recent argument raised by the EIA, and this response:


Sometimes I wonder if people lock their eyes onto the US and forgets that a big bunch of countries are expected to decline, that is, if they haven't already. North Sea, Australia, Malaysia, China, Mexico, Azerbaijan and even Saudi Arabia and Russia might decline this decade.

So what will that do the oil price? Maybe we'll see $200 a barrel in 2020 instead of 2035. Unconventional oil is seen a savior of the energy sector. Of course, this will mean a lot for US energy independence, but the energy prices are international.

IEA seems to be targeting a long term real price of $125/bbl, about where global prices sat for the first half of the year. But the world economy really spit the bit at that price, so it seems like there is a disconnect between their econ growth expectations and the price they feel is needed to bring forth supply.

Current prices seem low enough to really cut the legs out from under U.S. production, although Russia and OPEC could make up for the supply loss in order to meet their revenue targets. We'll get a read on this Q1 of next year.

What, did I entirely miss winter? Must be April 1st, right? If those top two articles aren't April Fool's jokes, then they must be from The Onion. OPEC is going to grow by 10 mbd, and the US is going to overtake KSA!?! What is the IEA smoking? No conflation of crude and total liquids, nor any confusion of resources and reserves can arrive at such a scenario that has any relation to reality.

Maybe they are planning to make barrels smaller!

"60 minutes" shortened the hour then they had lower supplyof news tofit inside it. We can do it with barrels to!

Yup, that's the ticket. Like all the packages in the supermarket getting smaller these days. Most recently, the 5-pound bags of sugar suddenly were replaced with 4-pound bags. The pound cartons of pasta are now 13 ounces. Perhaps they'll start pricing oil by the half-barrel, like they sell foods at the deli counter by the half-pound. After all, oil IS a delicacy that we should consume sparingly.

My plan to eliminate drunk driving in Nevada is to raise the allowable BAC to 5%.

I think PO might do a better job.. in any case, the cost to Innocent Bystanders might be outrageous, no?

On a serious note, I expect PO to start showing up in the road death statistic at about right now. Anyone have any hard digits?

As the necessary adherence to the CAFE standards causes the fleet MPG to rise (smirk) it is only natural to make hedonistic adjustments to the energy content of a barrel.

Maybe they are planning to make barrels smaller!

jstewart, either make smaller barrels or only fill the regular barrels half full.

For me Global Warming hits close to home.

Muddy hell! - Port Maria struggles to recover after weekend flooding

The busy town of Port Maria in St Mary was brought to a standstill yesterday after extensive flooding left businesses and homes covered in mud.

On Saturday, heavy rains caused the Pagee and Outram rivers to overflow their banks, gushing into the town from both ends, completely inundating the capital city.

Hit the hardest by the weekend flood rains, residents and business owners are now trying desperately to clean up and assess the damage.

The citizens said the rains started shortly after 3 p.m., but they didn't think anything of it. Within an hour, however, they heard a gush of water coming down the main road and within minutes muddy water started streaming into the buildings.

This from the capital of the parish (=county or state) where I spent my high school years and where my dad still lives. Luckily my dad's farm house is 10 miles (16km) away and 1000ft. (300m) above sea level. My family moved to this area in 1974 and I have never seen flooding this bad in Port Maria. The two articles below each have a picture of the actual flood waters, the second one showing two people in the backround up to their waists in water!

Flooding in St Mary

More rains for St Mary as parish recovers from flood

Two weeks before, rains associated with hurricane Sandy had also flooded the town but not as badly. If not a result of heavier downpours as a result of global warming (I'm calling it that because that's what I think it is, political correctnes be damned) it must be some large scale defoliation in the catchment areas of which I am not aware.

The same newspaper from which these stories are taken has been agitating for reduced electricity costs by any means neccessary, including using coal as the fuel. When will they connect the dots. I tried to help them with a comment/response to this morning's headline story.

Alan from the islands

Pretty grim.

""This is awful. Look at it. We were in this very same position two weeks ago with Hurricane Sandy. We never thought we would be back here again," said businessman Leon Edwards."

"This was worse than Sandy. Yesterday (Saturday) we only had about an hour of rain but the force broke the glass at the front and the water just rushed into the store. It came up to our waist.""

Hey Alan,

Hope you dry out soon and damage is minimal!

OT, I noticed that two commenters included this phrase in their comments: "it's like water more than flour".

I have a hunch what that might mean but would you care to elucidate.


P.S. I visited one of my local beaches here in S. Florida today, that I hadn't been to since Sandy and there was a lot of the beach missing... We also had high winds and waves today with more beach erosion.

Thanks Fred, I've sent an email to the address in your profile. The damage to my dad's place was minimal and done during Sandy as he lives 10 miles away from Port Maria in a town called Highgate. Highgate is about 1000ft above sea level and the main street runs along a ridge so there are very few points in the town where flooding is even remotely possible! I visited my dad Sunday night and there was some water in a couple of spots in his house where roof damage inflicted by or made worse by Sandy hasn't been repaired yet, that's about it!

As for the phrase, "water more than flour", I myself had no idea what it meant so, your question made me look it up.

Water more than flour

Dr Richard Allsop's invaluable Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage explains that 'water more than flour' is a bread-making term, meaning that if too much water has been added to too little flour, the result is a waste that cannot be rescued. In other words, "The situation has become impossible; things are getting/have got out of hand; there is more strain/trouble/shame, etc., than you can bear.

More pictures and video of flooding in Port Maria

11-10-12 port maria st mary 16 seconds
Mud and misery after St Mary flood 1 min. 25 sec.
DELUGE: Devastating Trough - "Catastrophic" Floods Submerges the Parish (Capital) of St. Mary in Jamaica! 9 min. 6 sec. (prime time television news coverage)

Hype alert: Bold, Italicized text mine as the whole parish cannot flood, there are even elevated areas of the parish capital that did not flood!

PHOTO GALLERY: Port Maria flooded

The picture at the link above shows water flowing onto the roof of a car caught in the flood. Fortunately, no reports of any drownings/deaths as a result of this flooding.

Alan from the islands

That's awful. The place will be a mess when the water drains leaving the mud behind. I think you guys will have to shift to higher ground in future.

From the page explaining "water more than flour"
Cornucopianism expressed...

If there was one thing that we were able to prove, and the moral in this story, is that even when water is more than flour the situation is still salvageable. All it takes is for people to combine their skills and energies and work together to solve the problem or save the situation.

Sooooo...this assumes that you have abundant excess flour to throw into the mix to fix it.

My wife kept throwing more corn flour, and then when we ran out, wheat flour, but the mass remained sodden. Eventually, we arrived at a consistency that was workable...

My guess is that the phrase originated from a time that when the water exceeded the flour, there were not copious amounts more flour laying around to fix the situation. But that's where our thinking is these days. For better or worse.

(How's that for pessimism Nate? :P )

Been there, done that. Even throwing in more flour, supposing a person had more flour, just creates a giant mass of bread dough. The giant blob then has to be coaxed to a semblance of bread elasticity, a larger than usual batch baked and then eaten before it becomes a brick. So even the high resource solution just creates more problems.

Only thing to do with water more than flour is to let it sit and ferment a few hours, and then pour it out on a hot griddle as a flat bread. A little salt and baking powder is helpful here if you have them, otherwise you just get a spongy sourdough flatbread similar to injera and eat it wrapped around hot sauce or dipped in soup.

Two big storms in two weeks? Did the water from Sandy have time to drain before the new storm rolled in?

If the soil was still saturated, then it wouldn't take long for the new storm to start a flood. And I have no idea what the local soils are like. That situation is also outstanding for generating landslides.

On the Saturday after the passage of Sandy (Wednesday), I was at my dad's place and he was really curious to see what things were like in Port Maria so, I drove the ten miles or so down from Highgate with him to look around. It was a bright, sunny day but the evidence of the flooding was everywhere. People were cleaning up with houses and business places wide open, drying out. The roads and side-walks were covered in silt as were the areas around most buildings.

I am not aware of any significant rainfall between Sandy and the weather system that brought this most recent rain. If you read the stories and watched the videos, at least one witness said that it wasn't even raining that hard, just drizzling! A feature of tropical rainfall is that you can have a torrential downpour happening somewhere while half a mile away, no rain or a mere drizzle. In the video of the news report, another person made the odd statement that the town is below sea level! This recent situation points to a very heavy downpour somewhere in the area of the Outram River and/or Pagee River watersheds.

The first time this happened was a few years ago when a temporary bridge was built a couple hundred yards up river from the old single lane bridge over the Outram River as part of a new North Coast Highway project. It was thought that this bridge had obstructed the flow of the river causing the town to flood. It happened again after the new bridge had been completed and again the bridge was blamed. The contractor building the highway had to dismantle the new bridge and raise it to appease all concerned. As far as I am aware, the flooding that accompanied Sandy was the first time since the bridge was raised.

I am beginning to think that this flooding has little to do with construction activity in the town of Port Maria itself and more to do with something further up the river that may be exacerbating heavier rainfall being experienced in recent times. It warrants some investigation and now my curiosity has been aroused as to why the original single lane bridge was built as high above the river as it was. Maybe this was a problem that was solved by some engineering that was done 70 years ago that nature or subsequent developments have undone. The folks who know the answer to that are probably either very old or dead.

Playing around with Google Maps, the Outram River is certainly the smaller of the two rivers emptying into the bay. The Pagee River goes much further inland according to the map although I know for a fact that the Outram goes much further inland than shown on the map. The Pagee River however flows into the bay at a point where there is hardly any development and when my dad and I took our tour, I did not drive down the road that crosses the Pagee river so, I have not seen the evidence if any, of the Pagee River contributing to the flooding.

edit: While I was out earlier I caught the mid-day news cast from the other of the two local tv stations. (While I saw the report on the "News at Noon", the online version had the story as the first part of "Newswatch" with the Pagee River part at about 6min. 40sec. into the newscast. This will likely disappear sometime after the next e) They interviewed some folks who live in the section of Port Maria closest to the Pagee River and the implication was that the flood waters were coming from the direction of the Pagee River. Question is, did both rivers contribute equally to the flooding? It could just be that there was a heavy downpour in the watersheds of unprecedented proportions. Global Warming induced maybe? In a post peak world with rising sea levels major sections of this town will be uninhabitable. Without economic growth or viable sources for financing how will this situation be fixed. My hunch is that it will not be fixed and at some point in the next 50 years this town will be abandoned, a victim of Peak Oil and global warming. Interestingly, I left the newscast running while typing this edit and a segment featuring an opposition party tour of Port Maria came on. Here's a choice quote from the leader of the oppostition

kinds of planning. One is the planning for retrofitting but, the other is, you know, quite frankly Jamaica will have to plan new towns that, and manage the transition from the old towns into the new towns. That is a long term process but, is a process that must happen because our climate is changing and we will have more frequently these kinds of weathjer phenomenon which will wreak havoc on the old infrastructure.

Having accepted the perils of global warming, I would love to see the look on his face if and when he has to face the challenges implied by an acceptance of a near term peak in world oil production!

Alan from the islands

Me smells land banking and wall street debt financing written all over it... it's create a bubble time folks! Once enough ching ching has flowed into it, economic fear and greed (fear that someone plays the emperors clothes card) will take over and fuel the rest.. just like sub-prime. But the facts are that shale oil produces shale oil gas as a by product which is making a cheap glut.. consumers want that gas glut as cheaper than the main product oil - not a safe bet for your economy - relying on a by product.

...relying on a by-product.

It will all come undone, but folks won't know or even have the capacity to understand why!

Not really true about cheap nat. gas being a by product of shale oil in Bakken formation of No. Dakota. According to ND oil.org the new wells are only able to capture gas at 60% of locations, other 40% of wells flare the gas because pipelines are too far away to tie into. Such a waste of energy, just like many wells in Nigeria.

The Canadian Oil Patch is Open for Business...bring me your unemployed, your skilled!:


This sounds like a great way for U.S. people with skills who can't find a job to gain experience and sock away some money.

Northward, Ho!

my observations are totally unscientific. i could be wrong. it is said the smartest men make the biggest mistakes. luckily, i dont have to worry about THAT!

where i live, (NJ) the electric company has supplied me with 40 blackouts on 30 years. i am only counting those of 24 hours or longer. just for sandy all the doomers and preppers and survivalists fired up their gas-o-lean powered electric generators. i would say fully 25% of the folks in my section of town had them.

i have today just purchased a generator rated at 3200 watts with 4000 watts surge. the manual says it can run 10 hours on 4 gallons at 50% load. we shall see. it was dirt cheap and in stock.

during the aftermath of sandy gas lines appeared as if by magic. some sort of herd mentality. i drove 60 miles total in 8 days. i didnt have to get gas. i am now thinking, completely unscientific, that the lines were caused by folks needing gas for all those generators.

besides the gas-o-lean powered generator i plan to add a LP powered one to the household. options, a feller needz options. of course a chicken in the pot is nice also, along with some pie in the sky for dessert.

now, just 12 days later or so the odd/even gas system is being abandoned. the attendent even told me they werent checking plates today as there were no lines. gas deliveries also seem to be back to normal. of course, where i live there was no massive destruction. sure, lots of lines down but all put back.

i noticed folks were starting to lose it about a week ago and a week into no electric. uhmerika has this paradigm where it's citizens care not or about the mechanics of civilization. the uhmerikan way of life is not negotiable or navigable. i doubt if the 99% and even the 1%, &c. knows how it works.

goobermint and corporations dont want citizen participation. they want the citizen to stay focused on getting money to buy things. that's it. i went to the town hall to inquire about the restoration timetable and all i got was "devastation". they said they were filling out forms.

the cable provider sent me an email before the system went down to reassure my that they will spare no effort getting the system back up. when i did get cable back (i use it for internet) i had many emails from the cable company and electric company about their progress status. hah-hah!

luckily my land line phone was on, out completely one day and sporadic the next and worked well all through the aftermath. i salute my local telephone company kudos to them. i fart in the general direction of cable and electric.

and the point of this? uhmerika is on a downward path when citizens have to buy backup generators due to the extensive blackouts becoming frequent. funny how almost all the generators are made in china. it's a given. you own a house, you need a generator.

the most annoying thing to me was not being able to find out anything. sure, i knew what bloomy was doing in nyc. i knew crispy crisp was handing out free hugs! i listened on my solar powered boombox all about nyc and the jersey shore. but my town? all rumor and just bits and pieces of out of date info and unverifiable. corporations were slow to get needed goods to market. just in time manufacturing was sorely tested.

today being the 12th of november i found the roads strangely empty going to work. of course many folks took off for veterans' day. but going home i found the roads strangely untraveled.

however, on saturday and sunday i observed with my own eyes the malls packed to the gills with cars and the roads and highways servicing them bumper to bumper. BAU. the fecal matter has not hit the fan yet.

"the most annoying thing to me was not being able to find out anything."

Don't they have an app for that? I recall a previous disaster (New Orleans?) where people put messages online with geographic tags to report how they were and how conditions were in their area.

I'd have thought with GPS-enabled cellphones sending text, images, and video, it should be possible to have a richly-layered picture of any disaster area in America that one could drill down into the data to the individual house level of granularity.

If not, FEMA should get its electronic butt into gear and set something up.

I'd have thought with GPS-enabled cellphones sending text, images, and video, it should be possible to have a richly-layered picture of any disaster area in America that one could drill down into the data to the individual house level of granularity.

If not, FEMA should get its electronic butt into gear and set something up.

I think the basic problem is bandwidth. During a disaster, cell use tends to go up dramatically as everyone in the effected area wants to call their loved ones outside the disaster area to tell them they are OK, and everyone outside the area tries to call folks within the disaster area to ask how they are doing. Also remember that in a regional disaster some of the cell infrastructure (towers and whatnot) may be knocked out, which throws even more load on the remaining system. Images and video suck up a lot more bandwidth than even voice.

The best advice I've heard is that during a major disaster, it is best for the public to use mostly text messages, and then only for essential communications. A text message uses minimal bandwidth, and hence will often get through when a voice call (let alone image or video) won't connect. Good for you, since your message gets through, and good for everyone else since you use only the minimal bandwidth you need.

Note that at present, many 911 dispatch centers may not be able to recieve text. I checked and was told that currently our regional dispatch here in Southcentral Alaska does not recieve text, but they might be getting that capability soon. So if you are calling 911, you might need to rely on voice. It would be good to find out the situation in your local area. There is a program for Next Generation 911, but probably only a few areas have it currently. And in a major regional disaster it would seem to suffer from the same bandwidth issues.

'Black Friday' starting this year at 8 PM Thanksgiving day :(

My daughter works at Target while she attends college to get her biology degree...she is showing at 8 PM.

Will the 'Door Buster' start time get earlier every year?


Thanks to Amazon.com and the rest of the commercial internet, we can browse/shop/buy every second of the year...and soon enough we wont have any holiday quiet times...

Some workers and families not happy:


Walmart will be opening its doors at 8 p.m. Sears will also open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, up from 4 a.m. on Black Friday last year. Kmart will be open Thanksgiving Day 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., then it will close and reopen 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. Macy's, Kohl's and Best Buy open at midnight.

I like some of the ideas floated on TOD about implementing a shorter workweek, making nighttime for self and family and enjoying time with friends, and overall simplifying our 'go-go' 'Work Hard-Play Hard' 24/7 frantic 'lifestyle'.

Newsflash to retailers: People have a finite amount of money to spend. Playing little games taking away holiday time is like squeezing a water balloon: the finite amount of spendola will just shift from one time to another. The Red Queen of consumerism is running faster and faster in place...what rabbits will they pull out of their (hat) when they take away every minute of Holiday time?

Consumerism über alles.

I found a change.org petition for Target to roll back this early start...I am hopping over there to sign it.

I signed earlier today - but erased the link. Perhaps post it here for others ?



Thank you for your help.

Per your request:


Health and happiness!

The only kind of petition they understand is Buy Nothing Day

Thanks for the link.

I will raise that idea to having a 'Buy Nothing Day' every week...we can make it Sunday!

And I am an atheist, so that idea has zero to do with any religion.

I would connect this idea to the widespread implementation of a four-day work week..Fridays Off.

http://www.unitedwestrike.com/p/united-we-win.html at one time was pitching that on the 15th of every month one doesn't buy stuff.

But it seems to have fizzeled.

Personally I think that choosing specific day(s) to "buy nothing" may be a nice symbolic protest that may achieve some publicity. But it does not actually achieve much in the way of pressuring the vendors. Because what one does not buy today one will presumably still buy, just tomorrow (or yesterday). Same as boycotting gas stations (of specific brands, or all) - if one does not reduce ones own driving, it's a futile gesture. And sometimes I even wonder if reducing personal consumption, leaving more money in the bank, really impacts anything, since the banksters then get to play with the money instead. And if one wants to take the money away from the banksters, what can it be spent on that will not have a bad impact on the planet, one way or another?

Efficiency, renewable generation. Either at home or invest in a company expanding renewables.

The new L-Prize light bulbs are a good ($35) stocking stuffer (9.7 watts, 940 lumens, 20+ year life, Assembled in USA, very good quality light).


You make some good points...but I feel the symbolic protests are a starting point ot start to get people to think about things.

Now we have the LA City Council endorsing Meatless Mondays:


Having read the IEA WEO 2012 Executive Summary and Fact Sheet along with the various media articles on it I am reminded of Chris Nelder's post...

Why energy journalism is so bad

One of the questions that plagues me constantly is, “Why is energy journalism so bad?” Most mainstream articles about energy will leave you horribly confused at best, or horribly misled at worst. Today I will try to teach you how to read reports on energy without getting lost.

Also it is worth reminding oneself who and what the IEA is...

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is an autonomous organisation that works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 28 member countries and beyond. Founded in response to the 1973-74 oil crisis, the IEA’s initial role was to help countries co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions in oil supply through the release of emergency oil stocks to the markets. While this continues to be a key aspect of the Agency’s work, the IEA has evolved and expanded to encompass the full mix of energy resources. It is at the heart of global dialogue on energy, providing authoritative and unbiased research, statistics, analysis and recommendations.

The WEo 2012 fact sheet has more to it than the likes of Reuters, Bloomberg and G&M have reported. The IEA's take on climate change is mostly ignored by the usual suspects. It's easy to forget that the WEO is discussing different scenarios that will have contradictory outcomes.

For example,

"Global oil demand in the New Policies Scenario, our central scenario, increases slowly to 2035, reaching 99.7 mb/d"

"In the Efficient World Scenario, energy‐related CO2 emissions peak before 2020 and decline to 30.5 Gt in 2035, pointing to a long‐term average temperature increase of 3 °C."

With the Efficient World Scenario we end up with a pretty grim 3 °C of AGW. So, The New Policies Scenario is a catastrophic climate change scenario! The IEA's Fatih Birol has been honest about the AGW trajectory we are on (video).

Interesting how the fact sheet devotes a full page (out of six) to Iraq:

"Iraq’s energy sector ... can make a major contribution to the stability and security of global energy markets.".

They seem to put a lot of their eggs in that basket. Puts the Western intervention there in a certain light.

As to how they predict energy supply, based on demand, and how they consider any "demand" as a good thing, noted the following language in the Natural Gas section of the exec sum:

"Natural gas is the only fossil fuel for which global demand grows in all scenarios, showing that it fares well under different policy conditions."

John Greer's 5-part short story about the breakup of the U.S. was an interesting fictional read.


Now, thanks to the Internet, it is easier than ever for people to float petitions for their state to leave the Union.


I find these postings, as small scale as they are, to be saddening.

There's that pesky Bell Curve thingy again...

E. Swanson

A friend of mine made this observation in the 70's:

Troutman's Observation: The amount of intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is increasing.

Students May Rely On Calculators To Bypass A More Holistic Understanding Of Mathematics, Researcher Says

Math instructors promoting calculator usage in college classrooms may want to rethink their teaching strategies, ... "We really can't assume that calculators are helping students," said King. "The goal is to understand the core concepts during the lecture. What we found is that use of calculators isn't necessarily helping in that regard."

"Instead of being able to accurately represent or visualize a sine wave, these students adopted a trial-and-error method by entering values into a calculator to determine which of the four answers provided was correct," said King. "It was apparent that the students who adopted this approach had limited understanding of the concept ...

... "The limited evidence we collected about the largely procedural use of calculators as a substitute for the mathematical thinking presented indicates that there might be a need to rethink how and when calculators may be used in classes—especially at the undergraduate level," said King. "Are these tools really helping to prepare students or are the students using the tools as a way to bypass information that is difficult to understand? Our evidence suggests the latter, and we encourage more research be done in this area."

"Instead of being able to accurately represent or visualize a sine wave, these students adopted a trial-and-error method by entering values into a calculator to determine which of the four answers provided was correct," said King. "It was apparent that the students who adopted this approach had limited understanding of the concept ...

Yes, but doubt it is due to the students being intellectually incapable and I'll bet they had become very good at taking standard stupid assessment tests because that is what most students in the public school system today are taught to do.

Teaching to the test
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Teaching to the test is an educational practice where curriculum is heavily focused on preparing for a standardized test.
Opponents of this practice argue that it forces teachers to limit curriculum to a set range of knowledge or skills in order to increase student performance on the mandated test. This produces an unhealthy focus on excessive repetition of simple, isolated skills ("drill and kill") and limits the teacher's ability to focus on a holistic understanding of the subject matter. Furthermore, opponents argue, teachers who engage in it are typically below-average teachers.[1]

Some research suggests that teaching to the test is ineffective and often does not achieve its primary goal of raising student scores.[1]

Even if Peak Oil is a myth, here in the United States, the situation is dire. Based on observation , it is my belief that calling the US "The Land of the Free" is a bit of a misnomer. Also predicting a future of endless iterative pleasure of consumption is unrealistic and perhaps, should be unwanted.

Consider the following...

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world at 730 (per 100,000) behind bars. Ironically, the country with the fourth highest imprisonment rate is the U.S. Virgin Islands with 530 per 100,000. Pakistan is at 40, with China at a mere 121. Most prisoners are paid 5 cents an hour to work in factories or manual labor.

The concentration of wealth is discombobulated as this graph demonstrates below


There is also the Gini Coefficient to consider. In 2011 is is estimated by the Atlantic that we are at .468. 0 is totally equal and 1 is unequal. Luckily this does vary by state.

These amongst and endless list of other economic indicators point to a country metastasizing into a plutocracy (or oligarch) This plutocratic phantom rules with Reality TV (as bread and circuses). It preys with behavioral psychology seen in comercial advertisements promising you fulfillment by projecting displays of emptiness and then offering a short lived cure to the void they created with the image. These plutocrats play away whilst enacting laws to benefit them and not others. Consider California's new laws that purportedly make being homeless a crime.

With wage stagnation, underwater homes, and unpayable debt we have now become a nation imprisoned to a failing economic system that resembles a burning tent city.

I hardly believe it is in our best interests to continue a path of such mockery. We, the people must develop a consensus. I will leave that task to you, dear reader

Homelessness is already basically a crime in many places, notably towns like Sarasota and Clearwater on the Florida gulf coast. Funny thing is, even if you make it a crime, there are still homeless people... Clearwater and St.Pete have a ton. They say a lot of them come down because you can survive the winter outside in Florida.

This is why I am in favor of some sort of land or property reform (ala distributism) - there are tons of empty properties and lots of people who need places to live. Somewhere along the line all the land and housing became property of the the better off, banks and corporations (if you have a mortgage, I say the bank owns it - you may have title, but only as long as you pay the bank). Land and housing are keys to wealth, and high rents are a great way to keep people poor. I would say it is the essential thing, going all the way back to feudalism. One person owns the land, the other works it.

Wave of Evictions Leads to Homeless Crisis in Spain

How long before we catch up with Spain? What does it take before we're willing to change the system?

Well . . . more people should start squatting in empty properties. Adverse possession is a long standing common law tradition. Now granted, it rarely works in the modern world but at least they can put roof over their head and give a reason for doing so. Perhaps they can get a job and fresh start w/o having to rent for a few months.

If you read the article, that's what people in Spain are doing. But my argument is that people shouldn't have to pay rent to get shelter. These people don't have jobs, have lost jobs, and there aren't any jobs for them. But what social gain is there in forcing them onto the streets? Especially when there is a ton of vacant housing? If there is enough housing for everyone, why should anyone ever be homeless?

Basically, I'm think we need to put people's welfare first. And when it transparently doesn't make sense to push people onto the streets, well, just stop doing it. But if you do, well, you're moving towards land (or rather, real property) reform.

Adverse possession is one way to go about this, but the time scales are lengthy and adverse possession tends to require actions that are usually considered criminal (trespass, breaking and entering in most cases, etc.). There are better ways to go, but they require massive changes. Basically, you have to jettison the current system of wealth and ownership.

Good pts. I often can't help but wonder, at a very fundamental level, that whenever a human is born on this planet, what gives anyone the right to force them to $pay$ for living space? One must either pay rent, or buy a property and pay tax upon it, just to have a legitimate spot on the planet. Seems crazy to me. But gets deeply into our probs. of overpopulation, overshoot, heck, over-everything. Agree totally with your last sentence. But how to do it, and with what to replace it? Some version of Quinn-like tribalism seems appropriate to me. But how to get from here to there? Long way off, methinks. Even with PO and Abrupt Climate Change upon us.

Independent Lens on PBS last night had a great documentary about money and power in the US.
See http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/park-avenue/

Norway oil production recovered somewhat in October but is still well below what they were expecting.

Norway Production figures October 2012

The average daily liquid production in October was: 1 472 000 barrels of oil, 255 000 barrels of NGL and 77 000 barrels of condensate.

The total oil production on the Norwegian shelf has increased since September and is at the same level as in the summer, but 12 per cent below the prognosis for October.

And on the same subject, this: Norway's 2012 oil output to miss target

Norway's 2012 crude production will likely miss the official target due to planned maintenance and technical problems on several fields, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said Tuesday, as crude production came in below expectations for the second month in a row in October.

October crude oil production was 12% below the directorate's forecast and September production was 15% lower than estimated, which means Norway will likely produce less crude than the expected 1.616 million barrels per day in 2012, the directorate said.

Ron P.

Norway's production is now almost exactly half of their peak production, and the peak was just 11 years ago. I find it strange that countries/organizations that provide timely accurate data peak and decline, but those that don't, never peak.

Clearly the solution to peak oil is to stop publishing open, accurate data. Either that or make the barrels smaller. /sarc

Link up top: Does the IMF believe we have a peak oil problem?

Though this article was written by peak oiler Kurt Cobb, here he quotes the IMF study that has been discussed so much lately. The quote is found on page 20 of this PDF report by the IMF.
Oil and the World Economy: Some Possible Futures

[I]f it really only takes a one third of one percentage point increase in oil supply per annum to support additional GDP growth of one percentage point, then it must also be true that it would only take a one third of one percentage point decrease in oil supply growth to reduce GDP growth by a full percentage point. And the kinds of declines in oil supply growth that are now being discussed as realistic possibilities are far larger than one third of one percentage point.

This is the IMF speaking, not the IEA or the EIA. These are the money folks. They know what a decline in oil production will do to the GDP of all nations. Some folks should sit up and take notice.

Ron P.

Re: Oil and the World Economy: Some Possible Futures. Thanks Ron, that was an excellent, albeit somewhat sobering read.

V. Conclusion

...And if two or more of these aggravating factors were to occur in combination,
the effects could range from dramatic to downright implausible.

Unfortunately, the more I learn about how things are interconnected, the more plausible it seems to me, that those aggravating factors are highly unlikely to occur in isolation from each other.

It seems to me that the authors have peered into the abyss and have correctly concluded that if we are hanging over the edge suspended by a fraying thread then there will be no way to survive should that thread break. They can't yet imagine that the rope holding us up could ever break... because that would be downright implausible.


Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Princess Bride 1987 ;-)

[I]f it really only takes a one third of one percentage point increase in oil supply per annum to support additional GDP growth of one percentage point, then it must also be true that it would only take a one third of one percentage point decrease in oil supply growth to reduce GDP growth by a full percentage point.

This is probably untrue. If the increase in GDP is partly due to more oil being available and partly due to oil being used more efficiently, then a reduction in oil availability would not necessarily affect the increase in efficiency. Therefore, the relationship around zero would not be symmetric.

Yes there are subtleties that need to be taken into account.

I would say I hate to keep harping on the same point, but I guess I don't really 'hate' it. I just hate having to keep bringing it up. The real and most critical issue in the oil (and general fossil fuel) picture is net energy available to do useful work and especially, since population continues to rise faster than the net energy rise in the last few decades, we should be paying much closer attention to net energy per capita (NEPC) as the key to economic activity. The rate of production of total net energy has probably been in deceleration since approximately the 1970s. Even while gross production of FFs continued to rise. If you don't take wide-boundary EROI into account you miss the critical transition points that really make a difference.

The deceleration in fossil fuel extraction, globally, and the eventual 'peak' of extraction rates since the late 1990s (with a possible effective peak in 2005 for conventional oil) is certainly an important phenomenon but not the critical one insofar as peoples' lives are negatively impacted. My fear is that by just focusing on this one aspect, esp. just peak oil extraction rates, we will fail to see the bigger picture and the effects of declining NEPC will catch us all off-guard.

Incidentally, the actual physical efficiency of our consumption of FFs has also been increasing at a decreasing rate (declining marginal improvements) for the last several decades. So efficiency effects are probably not a major factor in decline of consumption (some exceptions do exist but the general rule seems to be that we are approaching peak efficiency in our work processes). Wastage is a slightly different issue and there appears to be a lot of slack there; except that much of that wastage is tied to peoples' jobs (e.g. Jim Kunstler's reference to 'salad shooters'!) And we have not seen fit to start doing something about that.

I appreciate the The Oil Drum and ASPO are dedicated to focus on the peak oil phenomenon, and there should definitely continue to be work done on elucidating that phenomenon. But an over reliance on using peak oil as "the" causal factor in economics is missing the systemic relations and the real dynamics of the whole phenomenon we are facing.


"Incidentally, the actual physical efficiency of our consumption of FFs has also been increasing at a decreasing rate"

For example, natural gas furnaces that are greater than ninety percent efficient have been available for over a decade. The best ones now are at 98% efficiency, which doesn't leave much room for improvement.

I can think of ways. The first is that heating isn't (shouldn't) be about BTUs, but about keeping the space at a decent temperature, better insulation could work wonders. Also if instead of simply burning the fuel for heat, you did some sort of CHP (Combined Heat and Power), create power (either mechanical or electrical), and use the combo of waste heat plus an airsource heatpump running off the mechanical/electrical component to augment the heating. You should be able to get an "efficiency" of well over 100% that way!

Lets try some numbers: 30% efficiency for the mechanical part, 70% is direct heat. Then if you use the 30% with a heat pump with a COP of 2.5 that 30% buys you 75%, for a net "efficiency" of 145%! So there still is plenty of scope on the furnace front.

This is a joke, right? 145% efficiency????

You may want to study a little physics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnot_efficiency#Efficiency.

No, George, he's quite right. You may want to call it something other than "efficiency", but the point is that electricity is a higher quality of energy than plain heat. That's why people use heat pumps. Start with 100 energy units of heat (burning coal or NG, say) in the power plant, convert to 25-40 units of electricity delivered to the home, run a heat pump on it and it will move 1x-4x the amount of heat from the cool outdoors to the warm indoors (depending on the temperatures and the design of the heat pump), resulting in anywhere between 25 and 160 units of heat in the house. Don't re-invent the wheel, er, the heat, just move it from one place to another!

Better yet, capture the 60-75 units lost as "waste heat" in the power plant, and deliver them to the houses as "district heating" (a CHP, combined heat and power setup). If even half of the 60 units make it to the house that way, added to the local heat pump, that's 55-190 units of heat in the house, originating from the original 100 units. The low end is when it is _very_ cold outside (say -25C), better to burn a fuel locally in the house to keep warm then. The high end is when it's only slightly cold ourside (say 10C), although at that point there may not be use for all the heat available from the power plant, unless the electricity demand decreases and the power plant can be "turned down" enough.

An alternative is a small CHP unit in the house, and those are available, although their high cost hints that the embedded energy in their manufacturing may more than outbalance the efficiency gains. Investing in better insulation is probably a better approach.

The best combined cycle natural gas power plants (i.e. the bigger ones with the extra cost extras) have nameplate efficiency rating just above 60%. Combined cycle co-generation (using the waste heat for, say, district heat) can be superbly efficient - and almost never seen in the USA.


Well yes, -if we are getting more efficient, lets say for the sake of argument we are, and we could maintain GDP at a 2% rate of decline of oil, then if we only had a 1% decline rate, we could see 3% growth....
So the claim from that factor of three, is that when oil gets more expensive the economy gets more efficient at converting oil to GDP, which one would expect.

If you throw a massive renewable energy program into the mix, a la Germany and now Japan it probably even less true that "it would only take a one third of one percentage point decrease in oil supply growth to reduce GDP growth by a full percentage point".

With renewable energy now providing somewhere in the region of 30% of Germany's electricity, surely FF consumption is set to begin to decouple from GDP. It is likely that the only reason it has not happened, if that is the case, is that the early decommissioning of some of Germany's nuclear reactors has left a deficit that renewables have been unable to balance, requiring additional FF use.

Only time will tell if renewables can allow the countries that adopt it aggresively to decouple FF use from GDP.

Alan from the islands

Whereas the preferred solution by TPTB is to extend ever more credit to ever less creditworthy borrowers, dump the loans onto the central b%^k and give the commercial banks real money back. This is really forward looking. Great for inflation and no big goobermint shpending pwogwams./sarc off

Hi Alan,

25% for this year for renewables and wastes as extrapolated from the first three quarters. Numbers are at www.ag-energiebilanzen.de

Nuclear down by 43 TWH from 2010, r&w up by 40 TWH; Coal up by 6 TWH and exports about the same.

The real whopper for this year up to July/August is Scandinavia with 58% of energy from r&w using the BP statistical review convention. Must have been pouring.


Update: Just in case anyone checks, the 58 percent are from production minus net exports.

Update2: Sorry, actually its coal up by 18 and natgas down by 7, a pattern that is replicated over the whole EU. The US has saved 360 TWH of coal generation over the period while EU generation has expanded by 125 TWH. So its babies drilling, not NPP shutdowns :-)

This is not just a subtle point IMHO. Once the price of driving gets too expensive, you have whole industries that will spiral downwards and people will have to be employed in other industries, rehoused etc. I think we are facing discontinuities that we can't predict and that major changes in GDP could destabilize just about everything. I'd be surprised if you could 'plan' the way down technocratically. This is of course not very optimistic, but I can't yet see how you resimplify life back from complexity. What happens with inflation, debt? What I do think is that choices made are going to have large consequences. And with most everyone here I agree we have to act while we still can.

Looking back at the root of the problem I'm struck at how extraordinarily rapidly America turned itself into a completely auto-dependent society. The bulk of this transformation seemed to have happened between 1950-1970. It happened so fast there was no time to really think about whether this was a good idea or not. It probably wasn't until the first oil crisis of 1972 that it started to occur to people that just maybe this wasn't such a good idea, and by that point it was too late. Unfortunately despite being such a recent invention such an extraordinary amount of energy has been invested in this way of life unraveling it will not be easy and will not be undertaken voluntarily.

...and with the financial crisis I was surprised to learn how much the economy is based on homes... many of which are arranged in suburbs that are really only practical to live in if you drive a car. Whole great swaths of Anaheim, just south of Los Angeles, used to serve the aerospace industry that I grew up with. Now whole contiguous blocks of those industrial buildings are dedicated to tile... block after block of tile bordered by other home-improvement businesses like spas and big-box home centers.

( http://www.oilposter.org/index.html )

Official DOE posters:

Some interesting observations:

How on earth do you find your way around without a GPS. There must be people stuck in there trying to get in or out for years.


It looks like a literal maze. And how much of American civilization - buildings, roads, infrastuctures - has been built over just the last 62 years? Would be most I bet. Insanity.

A GPS really helps. But sometimes, even that fails. In that case, you resort to asking someone who lives there, "How the heck do I get out of here?" (Yes, I've had to do that...even with a GPS. They usually laugh, because they know it's a maze.)

Michael Kumhof, one of the co-authors of the recent IMF report, will be speaking at the 2012 ASPO-USA conference, on 11/30/12.


Ron - Amazing how expectations vary between folks with real $'s to lose and those who don't have "skin in the game". I mentioned before how the bankers/investment companies that I know have been backing away from the shale plays for over a year now. They are still making loans but are being very selective about the properties. Been a while since I've gotten an update but one of the biggest investment bankers in Houston had only funded one Marcellus operator in the last year. They had found a very sweet spot with wells doing 3 to 5 times better than average. Otherwise they haven't seen anything else in the trend they would take the gamble on.

obv said bankers haven't gotten the memo from the big wheels at BHP:

In the wet weekend (18mths) they are in the shale game their assets have been significantly written down. Fairly "stupendous" alright. Also this Yeager character is waxing on as if the whole thing is a new discovery when of course he has known of the EF all his life. But why only 45 wells when money is no object?

M - "That the shale itself held riches has been known for years, but the large-scale extraction of its oil and gas has been made practical only recently, by developments in hydraulic fracturing or “fracking..."

Another example of how you can fool folks by repeatedly offering half true "facts": sooner or later they just accept everything they read. For instance: the "riches" of the shales being known for years - true but for how many years? Hmm...more than 50 years. They could have said it's been known for decades or even half a century but that wouldn't provide the spin they're shooting for. We've discovered a "new" play that can save us. And the extraction becoming practical only recently? Also true but not because of hz drilling (been doing that for more than two decades) or frac'ng (been doing that for more than half a century). It became practical (read: economic) because oil and NG prices rose to very high levels. Of course, the NG price collapse back on '08 crippled the dry shale gas plays. But by emphasizing the "tech" instead of a price driven boom they try to spin folks into believing all these "new" methods of producing oil will bring prices down. Which if it happens for whatever reasons the oily shale plays will obviously suffer the same fate as the dry NG shales.

But that isn't the spin they want folks to absorb: We've discovered a "fix" that will bring us cheaper energy.

And just to make life more interesting, we have a remarkably fact-free Cornucopian Primal Scream item, from the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal. Note the numbers given for current US "production," a term which is conveniently not defined, but the clear implication is that they are talking about oil production.

Saudi America: The U.S. will be the world's leading energy producer, if we allow it.


Sometimes the revolution politicians seek isn't the one they get. Consider the irony—and the opportunity—in Monday's report that the U.S. is likely to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer as early as 2020.

In its annual world energy outlook, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) says the global energy map "is being redrawn by the resurgence in oil and gas production in the United States."

The U.S. will increase its production to about 23 million barrels a day in 10 years from about 18 million barrels a day now, the IEA predicts. That's more optimistic than current U.S. government estimates and a change from a year ago when the IEA said Russia and the Saudis would vie for number one . . .

Historians will one day marvel that so much political and financial capital was invested in a green-energy revolution at the very moment a fossil fuel revolution was aborning. But politicians failing to spot the trend until they start taking credit for it is an old story. Let's hope they don't ruin it now that they've noticed.

I suppose that they may be counting total liquids plus natural gas in terms of Barrels of Oil Equivalent (BOE), or they may be confusing consumption with production.

But I suspect that a fair number of Americans--millions?--now think that the US is producing 18 mbpd of oil. Note that several people, including yours truly, pointed out, in the comments section, the error in the opinion piece, but no correction, or explanation, so far.

Saudi America: The U.S. will be the world's leading energy producer, if we allow it.

If the rise in price the last 10-15 years did not allow what will allow it?

My two cents worth, posted in the comment section:

The increase in US crude oil production (Crude + Condensate, EIA), from 5.4 mbpd in 2004, which was our production level prior to the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes, to 5.7 mbpd in 2011, and to an average production rate in excess of 6.0 mbpd in 2012, is good news for the US economy.

However, it is critically important to understand that the overall rate of decline in oil production from existing US wellbores is going up, as an increasing percentage of US crude oil production comes from shale oil plays, which have a very high decline rate, much higher than the older conventional fields, such as the Prudhoe Bay Field in Alaska. Inevitably this results in the “Red Queen” problem, where US oil producers have to run faster and faster, just to stay in place.

Meanwhile, the primary factor affecting US consumers at the pump is a measurable post-2005 decline in Global Net Exports of oil (GNE*), with developing countries, led by China, so far consuming an increasing share of a declining volume of GNE. This bidding war for net oil exports drove the annual global (Brent) price of oil from $55 in 2005 to $111 in 2011. Note that US consumers are almost fully exposed to the global oil price, since Mid-Continent refiners are paying West Texas Intermediate (WTI) based prices for crude oil, but largely charging Brent based prices for refined product.

As Yogi Berra is reported to have said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future,” but when we review recent annual net export data, from 2005 to 2011, the trend is extremely worrisome, especially in the context of conventional wisdom that there does not appear to be a problem with a virtually infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite fossil fuel resource base.

In 2005, the ratio of GNE to Chindia’s (China + India’s) Net Imports of oil (CNI) was 8.9. In other words, in 2005 for every barrel of oil that the Chindia region net imported, there were 8.9 barrels of GNE (Global Net Exports of oil). In 2011, this ratio had fallen to only 5.3, and the rate of decline in the ratio has recently accelerated. At the 2005 to 2011 rate of decline in the GNE to CNI ratio, the Chindia region alone would theoretically consume 100% of GNE in only 18 years.

While the increase in US crude oil production is very helpful, and important to the US economy, the fact remains that the US, and most other net oil importing OECD countries, are gradually being priced out of the market for exported oil. And it remains to be seen how long the US can maintain an increase in US crude oil production, when the bulk of new supply comes from probably the highest decline rate wells we have ever seen in the US.

In any case, for an average US consumer, the price at the pump, for the foreseeable future, would appear to be largely driven by the fact that the developing countries, led by China, have been consuming and probably will continue to consume, an increasing share of a declining volume of Global Net Exports of oil.

*GNE = Net exports from top 33 net oil exporters in 2005, BP + Minor EIA data

One has to wonder about the quality of fact checking at the WSJ's editorial page section. Just yesterday, they reported on the latest from the IEA, claiming that US oil production is "10.76 million barrels a day". Today's editorial bumps that figure to 18 million barrels a day, which is wildly incorrect. This could be a typo, if the writer has rounded "10.79" to "10.8", then goofed by leaving the "0." out of the resulting text, that would result in the 18 million rate. Or, maybe these guys are truly living in some alternate universe, in which they can write anything they please without checking the data because, after all, they are THE WALL STREET JOURNAL...

E. Swanson

Today's editorial bumps that figure to 18 million barrels a day, which is wildly incorrect. This could be a typo, if the writer has rounded "10.79" to "10.8", then goofed by leaving the "0." out of the resulting text, that would result in the 18 million rate.

Either that or someone told the writer that the US consumes 18 million barrels a day and since we are now a net exporter of oil it would be logical to assume that we must be producing at least that much... who knows, the WSJ, definitely is an alternate universe

IEA Report Reminds Us Peak Oil Idea Has Gone Up In Flames

... the truly global implications of the International Energy Agency's flagship report for 2012 lie elsewhere, in the quietly devastating statement that no more than one-third of already proven reserves of fossil fuels can be burned by 2050 if the world is to prevent global warming exceeding the danger point of 2C. This means nothing less than leaving most of the world's coal, oil and gas in the ground or facing a destabilised climate, with its supercharged heatwaves, floods and storms.

What follows from this is that the idea of peak oil has gone up in flames. We do not have too little fossil fuel, we have far too much. It also follows directly that the world's stock markets are sitting on toxic levels of subprime coal and gas, a giant carbon bubble ready to explode.

... "Many governments and businesses are clearly in denial over the threat posed by climate change and need to accept that we have to start leaving fossil fuels in the ground rather than dashing to develop new reserves. It's simply crazy to think otherwise." The problem is that right now, and for many people, it is leaving coal, gas and oil buried that seems the crazier option.

S - Interesting how in the same article they define not only the problem but also why then the obvious solution won't be utilized. "...and need to accept that we have to start leaving fossil fuels in the ground...The problem is that right now, and for many people, it is leaving coal, gas and oil buried that seems the crazier option." And IMHO it's not "many people" but the vast majority. Including many who talk the talk but won't walk the walk when no one is looking. Perhaps I look at it too simply but it seems that simple: the folks making the decisions would pay the price (slower/no growth) for future populations to benefit from their efforts. Given those decision makers are also the ones who vote politicians into/out of office it shouldn't be a big surprise who the pols decide to satisfy: current voters or future voters whose votes these pols will never compete for.

So much for "doing it for the children". Or in this case grandchildren and great grandchildren. IMHO it has nothing to do with "being crazy". It's all about self interest. In my experience folks are very good at rationalizing such decisions.

I wonder how many people think they are doing their bit by recycling, using reusable shopping bags and unplugging their cell phone charger when not in use? While all these things are good, the reality is that they are a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things. The sort of sacrifices that would be required to make a significant difference such as NOT making a yearly trip to the other end of the country to visit family, NOT traveling south for a winter vacation, etc. would be quite unacceptable to most people.

Use a reusable shopping bag, but drive to the store in an Ford Expedition! More common than you'd care to imagine.


So, what are the conditions under which each of us on TOD would NOT do these things (e.g, trips ,travel , vacations) or our life's equivalent?

Reusable shopping bags - ha. These use a lot more material (typically nylon) than disposable ones. You have to use them over many shopping trips to make them a better choice. But what happens in a lot of cases? People forget them, so they just buy yet another "reusable" one at the checkout, and then add them to the pile of other "reusable" ones when they get home.

But the world's addiction to economic growth is so extreme these fossil fuels will be dug up and burnt. No question. Hope global warming doesn't turn out as bad as some people say.

Ha yourself, it's about a lot more than just the volume of material. It's where it goes next. There is still a huge pollution problem.. plastic bags are fouling waterways and killing wildlife.

It's a change of habits, and sometimes you forget.. but in changing THAT habit, you also start looking at many related behaviors. You can often refuse to take a bag at all, you notice when you throw such things into the trash. We take weeks to fill a garbage can now, between composting, reuse, recycling etc.

I use those shopping bags endlessly for all sorts of carrying needs.. we wash and reuse ziplocks until they're unusable.. these are small steps, and we hardly believe we've 'done our part' with those and leave it at that..

But hey, it's fun to sneer. I get it.

"No question."

The one that really got to me was that all of the carbon in the ground deemed "producible" is already on the books:

Yes, this coal and gas and oil is still technically in the soil. But it's already economically aboveground – it's figured into share prices, companies are borrowing money against it, nations are basing their budgets on the presumed returns from their patrimony. It explains why the big fossil-fuel companies have fought so hard to prevent the regulation of carbon dioxide – those reserves are their primary asset, the holding that gives their companies their value. It's why they've worked so hard these past years to figure out how to unlock the oil in Canada's tar sands, or how to drill miles beneath the sea, or how to frack the Appalachians.

...and why, from their point-of-view, wind, or any alternative to carbon, must be stopped.

Global Warming's Terrifying New Math

As to one bag VS another... try burning samples of throw-away and nylon bags. The HDPE burns clean and blue and smells like candles: it is paraffinic. They are easier to use as fuel or feedstock... if such a program was popular. As trash, both are plastic trash. The HDPE, and other plastics, break down into itty-bitty pieces in the ocean.

Burning HDPE in an engine

Plastic Albatross:

Plastic Soup:

I like to re-use the disposable bags, very handy for many things especially disposing of used cat-food. Recently the supermarkets have gone back to superthin bags and I have even had the handles just pull off when I have tried to pick them up. They seem to break down very quickly and are very much use once (if you are lucky) let alone 3 or 4 times. One issue with reusable bags is hygiene, if used for shopping they need to be cleaned each time to remove food residues or other contaminants. Has that been factored into the benefits calculations?


The comments section is interesting. Far more push back in defense of Peak Oil than I would normally expect from readers of the MSM. Then again, this is The Guardian and their readers are mostly enviro-nazi, communist wackos! >;-)

Alan from the islands

New global CO2 emissions record in 2011

Global carbon dioxide missions hit a new record last year at 34 billion tonnes, with China still topping the list of greenhouse gas producers, a German-based private institute said Tuesday.

"If the current trend continues then global CO2 emissions will rise another 20 percent by the year 2020 to reach 40 billion tonnes of CO2," IWR director Norbert Allnoch said in a statement.

In 1990, the figure was 22.7 billion tonnes.

Even though the pre-industrial CO2 level was 280 ppm, we have generously offered ourselves the international benchmark of 350 ppm, 'hoped' for in spite of data to the contrary of being on track to top 400 ppm in May 2014. Once we pass 400 the new line will be we need to get back to and hold at 400 (while we charge ever faster towards 500).

The 350 level is junk. The climate operates on stable levels. We know there are stable levels at about 180 and 280. Where the next one is no one know. But becuse we likely are between two stable levels right now, CO2 cons will rise for a while longer even if we stope mitt today.

And with the lag effect of 30 to 50 years, caused by the oceans, we have that too to add. It all acumulates to much more climate change before it stops. This is why we call it global warming.

Researchers analyze future snowpack decline from California to the Himalayas

Snowpack, an essential source of drinking water and agricultural irrigation for billions of people, could shrink significantly within the next 30 years, according to a study led by Stanford climate change researcher Noah Diffenbaugh.

news is particularly troubling for snowpack-dependent California – the largest producer of agriculture products in the country and the sixth-largest agriculture exporter in the world. the world.

"The Western U.S. exhibits the strongest increases in the occurrence of extremely low snow years in response to global warming," Diffenbaugh said. "It also exhibits some of the strongest decreases in runoff that occurs during the growing season."

Whoa! 1.7 Billion Cars on the Road by 2035

And yes, as incredible as it sounds, China's auto market is just getting started.

According to the IEA, look at the growth in vehicles per capita:

* 2000: 4 vehicles per 1000 people.

* 2010: 40 per 1000 people.

* 2035: 310 per 1000 people

For comparison, the U.S. Currently has 660 vehicles per 1000 people.

China gets the most attention, but India will also see explosive growth, going from 14 million cars today to an estimated 160 million cars 23 years from now.

Replace China with Sweden and the years with mid 20:th century years, and the trend is there again. Now Sweden had at the time 6 million inhabitants. China have 1.4 billion, give or take a few medium sized countries. The planet does not need this.

Whoa! 1.7 Billion Cars on the Road by 2035

Yo, Dudeski! That statement is beyond absurd! Ain't ever gonna happen! The still warm and moist, finely refined yak dung, will be impinging upon the spinning ventilator and splattering, all over the beautiful white walls of that particular fantasy, long long before then... You don't even need to be a card carrying member of Doomster's Anonymous to agree with me, just do a few back of the envelope calculations.


Learning from China: Why the Existing Economic Model Will Fail

By Lester R. Brown, September 08, 2011

What China is teaching us is that the western economic model -- the fossil-fuel-based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy -- will not work for the world. If it does not work for China, it will not work for India, which by 2035 is projected to have an even larger population than China. Nor will it work for the other 3 billion people in developing countries who are also dreaming the American dream. And in an increasingly integrated global economy, where we all depend on the same grain, oil, and steel, the western economic model will no longer work for the industrial countries either.

By 2035, the number of vehicles on the road worldwide will double to 1.7 billion.

Double the fuel efficiency of the present 850 million fossil fueled vehicles, cut the distance driven in half, add some electric vehicles or apply a combination of them. 1.7 billion is plausible.

...cut the distance driven in half...

BlueTwilight, maybe the distance traveled will drop because so many vehicle are stuck in traffic...

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS] ...

Energy Policy: 112th Congress Issues and Legislative Proposals (0.2M pdf)

Energy policy in the United States has focused on three major goals [... pick 2]: assuring a secure supply of energy, keeping energy costs low, and protecting the environment. In pursuit of those goals, government programs have been developed to improve the efficiency with which energy is utilized, to promote the domestic production of conventional energy sources, and to develop new energy sources, particularly renewable sources.

Implementing these programs has been controversial because of varying importance given to different aspects of energy policy. For some, dependence on imports of foreign oil, particularly from the Persian Gulf, is the primary concern; for others, the indiscriminate use of fossil fuels, whatever their origin, is most important. The contribution of burning fossil fuels to global climate change is particularly controversial. Another dichotomy is between those who see government intervention as a positive force and those who view it as a necessary evil at best.

... The 112th Congress has not taken up comprehensive energy legislation, ...

Introduction .................................................... 1
Policy Goals .................................................... 2
  Conservation and Energy Efficiency ............................ 2
  Increasing Domestic Supply .................................... 2
    Production of Oil ........................................... 2
    The Price of Oil and Gasoline ............................... 3
    Natural Gas ................................................. 3
    Electric Power Production ................................... 4
  Replacing Conventional Energy Sources ......................... 4
Energy Policy in the Presidential Campaign ...................... 5
  Obama Energy Policy ........................................... 5
  Romney Energy Policy .......................................... 6
Selected Legislation ............................................ 7
  H.R. 4480, The Domestic Energy and Jobs Act ................... 8
  S. 3521, The Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012 .. 8
  H.R. 2401, The Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on 
the Nation(TRAIN) Act ........................................... 8
  H.R. 3409, The Stop the War on Coal Act........................ 8
  H.R. 1084 and S. 587, The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness 
of Chemicals Act (FRAC Act); S. 2248 and H.R. 4322, The Fracturing 
Regulations are Effective in State Hands Act (FRESH Act) ........ 9
  H.R. 6213, No More Solyndras Act .............................. 9
  H.R. 4850, The Enabling Energy Savings Innovations Act ........ 9

U.S. Renewable Electricity: How Does Wind Generation Impact Competitive Power Markets? (0.5M pdf)

... The concentration of wind power projects within competitive power markets managed by regional transmission operators (RTOs), the focus of this report, has resulted in several concerns expressed by power generators and other market participants. Three specific concerns explored in this report include: (1) How might wind power affect wholesale market clearing prices? (2) Does wind power contribute to negative wholesale power price events? and (3) Does wind power impact electric system reliability? These concerns might be considered during congressional debate about the future of wind PTC incentives.

Wind power generation can potentially reduce wholesale electricity prices, in certain locations and during certain seasons and times of day, since wind typically bids a zero ($0.00) price into wholesale power markets. Additionally, independent market monitor reports for three different RTOs each indicate that wind generators will sometimes bid a negative wholesale price in order to ensure electricity dispatch. The ability of wind generators to bid negatively priced power is generally attributed to value associated with PTC incentives and the ability to sell renewable energy credits (REC).

Key Concepts and Definitions .................................. 3
  Regional Transmission Operators /Independent System Operators ... 3
  Economic Supply and Electricity Dispatch ........................ 4
  Transmission Congestion Constraints ............................. 4
  Locational Marginal Prices (LMP) ................................ 5
  Multiple Revenue Sources ........................................ 5
  Day-Ahead and Real-Time Prices .................................. 6
  Bilateral Contracts ............................................. 7
  Uplift/Make-Whole Payments ...................................... 7
  Cost Recovery and Amortization .................................. 7
  Negative Prices ................................................. 7
Multiple Factors Can Affect Wholesale Electricity Prices .......... 8
Impacts of Wind Power in Competitive U.S. Electricity Markets .... 10
  How Might Wind Power Affect Market Clearing Prices? ............ 10
  Does Wind Power Generation Contribute to Negative Wholesale 
  Electricity Price Events? ...................................... 13
   MISO .......................................................... 14
   PJM ........................................................... 15
   ERCOT ......................................................... 16
  Does Wind Power Impact Electric System Reliability? ............ 18
   Real-Time System Operations ................................... 18
   Resource Adequacy and Capacity Margins ........................ 19
Policy Discussion ................................................ 21
The United States as a Net Debtor Nation: Overview of the International Investment Position (0.4M pdf)

Today's Slashdot has a discussion about US shale oil. Not particularly informed, but interesting to see take from geeks (who rarely RTFA).


Note they link to us at the bottom.

One billion barrels of oil found off the south-west coast


One billion barrels found and no drillbit even needed coz yo we're cool like that. Truly this is the tech the world has been waiting for!

Montana lawmaker wants to be paid in gold

Jerry O'Neil, a Republican state legislator in Montana, is so worried about the nation's fiscal health that he wants to be paid in gold and silver coins.

"It is very likely the bottom will fall out from under the U.S. dollar," O'Neil told the newspaper, which covers northwest Montana. "Only so many dollars can be printed before they have no value."


The '$5 Doctor' Practices Medicine From Bygone Era

When Dohner started practicing medicine in Rushville in 1955, he charged the going rate around town for an office visit: $2.

Now it is $5.

This in an era when the cost of healthcare has steadily risen, when those who don't have medical insurance often forgo seeing a doctor. But not Dohner's patients. He doesn't even accept medical insurance—says it's not worth the bother.

"I always just wanted to be a doctor to help people with their medical problems and that's all it's for," the 87-year-old family physician says. "It was never intended to make a lot of money."

... who would you trust?

China 'needs 4,960 planes by 2031'

China will need 4,960 commercial planes over the next 20 years, representing a value of $563 billion, the official Xinhua news agency said Tuesday, as air travel demand is expected to increase.

COMAC, which gave the estimate on the sidelines of China's premier airshow held in the southern city of Zhuhai, also said the country's air passenger volume would grow more than seven percent annually in the next two decades.

Air travel demand in China has soared in line with the country's decades of surging economic growth that have made it the world's second-biggest economy and seen its increasingly wealthy consumers take to the skies.

COMAC, which gave the estimate on the sidelines of China's premier airshow held in the southern city of Zhuhai, also said the country's air passenger volume would grow more than seven percent annually in the next two decades.

Really?! From the article:

Chinese airlines carried 292 million domestic passengers last year, up 9.2 percent from 2010, according to official figures.

So if I'm not mistaken, a 7% annual growth rate is roughly one doubling every decade... in 2022 that's about 600 million passengers in 2032 we're looking at 1.2 billion?

How realistic is that?! Are those planes going to be powered by pixie dust? And here I thought the Chinese were good at arithmetic, what am I missing?

S - Perhaps a simplistic cartoon but probably gives the best visualization for the non-geologists out there. Reading the posts it's easy to understand the anxiety of the folks in the area. They even express concerns about my well drilling 5 miles away. Very easy for me using my the seismic date to show that nothing we're doing would affect the sink hole situation and vice versa. Add that to the fact that we've already drilled 3X as deep as the sink hole. I'll be going out to run a log this weekend after which we'll run intermediate casing into the well and drill another 1,500'. If we were a public company no doubt we would making all kinds of public statements and town hall meetings to calm folks' nerves. But we're privately owned by a family that values their privacy and shun any publicity. Good as well as bad.

The state and parish politicians could have presented all the same data I have to the folks so they could understand the situation and not worry about our well. But for what every reason they've made few statements about this situation. Not sure why because it's actually a rather simple geologic story. Much simpler than what's going on at the sink hole.

I checked the link now. What exactly is the Big Hum?

LA Sink Hole: "Big Hum Explained" (Nov. 12 2012)


Worth Watching the video. But if you want the short answer, "Big Hum" is the name of an oil reservoir.

Fiscal Cliff Scare Talk Follows Shock Doctrine Script

Anyone who has read The Shock Doctrine understands exactly what this "Fiscal Cliff" scare is.

... The "Fiscal Cliff" is not a cliff and the language itself is intended to scare people. The name itself is designed to create panic, evoking disaster imagery of people and the economy falling off a cliff. It is the latest manufactured "crisis" and we are all supposed to be terrified and demand immediate and extreme solutions.

Again, the very people screaming loudest about deficits are the people who passed tax cut after tax cut, and military spending increase after military spending increase, and started war after war.

Then after the public is suitably stirred up and terrified they offer “solutions” they say are necessary to cut the scary deficit (that they caused, for this purpose).

And the fixing all has to happen right now, in the "lame duck" Congress, before those new legislators We, the People elected can take office.

Danger Ahead: The Oligarchs Don't Understand That Economic Collapse Happens When They Get All the Money

Meanwhile, Back in the Middle East...

Great article with the Monopoly analogy. Along the lines of the Oligarchs, I was disturbed by an article about a year ago that the NFL were having trouble finding new ways to generate profits (beyond the billions they are already making). Excuse me?! After decades of seeking out every excuse conceivable to run off for ever more ads, they are still trying to make even more?

But I suppose that is what Corp's do - try ever harder to find new ways to make even more at the expense of the consumer.

Either the Oligarchs are going to squeeze the little guy out of the game or the world debt bubble will burst, but something's gonna have to give. I call the game of trying to keep up with all the bills the red queen syndrome and the oligarches love to see us run ever faster in place!

This shock doctrine is very successful. Frequently a "liberal" government gets in, but is presented with one of these "shocks", and ends up implementing the doctrine itself. Once you scare people into austerity (without tax increases on the wealthy), you've got um by the balls.

So how come the Icelanders stood up to that program? Why aren't the Greeks doing the same? I'm curious. Perhaps living on an island changes people's perceptions - understand "finite", and not worry about being cut off from the Eurozone? Will any of the EZ countries do an Iceland (or Argentina) style solution?

The Shock Doctrine was used years ago by the Banksters and Private Energy utility years ago against Cleveland and its wonder "Boy Mayor" Dennis Kucinich. They were insistent that Cleveland privatize its Municipal Power and give it over to what later became Entergy.
Kucinich refused. They threatened bankruptcy. Kucinich refused to back down.

So the banksters forced Cleveland into bankruptcy. Kucinich' popularity plummeted and he
was forced out as Cleveland Mayor. However Cleveland's Municipal power was never privatized.

Years later then Entergy screwed up the power for almost the whole Northeast stretching into Ohio millions lost power when the grid went down due to lack of maintenance. Except for Cleveland which kept its power going with its Municipal power company.

The lesson of Hurricane Sandy to me is yes improve the Grid but MOST of all build distributed solar and renewable power. Invest in solar panels with battery backups on every public school which usually have sun as they are surrounded by playgrounds and fields. In the long run, towns will erase their electric bills, their greenhouse emissions and provide resilient power backup in the event of future disasters which we know will increase in frequency.

Yes that struck me too...all this talk of doom and gloom when the real tragedies never get covered. A 2% rise in tax rate and the sky is falling while whole forests and rivers disappear and it's a "no big deal". Those pesky environmentalists.

Meanwhile, Back in the Middle East...

Strange the article didn't also mention Israeli action using missiles or shelling against Syrian targets. Seems both Turkey and Israel are very keen for Syria to make a suitably large mistake, or their allies within to provide a Casus belli, so they can pulverise it. The US can then move in and free Syria from its people.

An American Oil Find That Holds More Than All of OPEC


Just as I thought before even opening, Green River Shale. Nothing New.

What is worse is that we are going to see the conflation of conventional "tight" oil from shale formations with oil shale for the next 20 years.

No matter how many times you try to correct people, there will always be some new fresh-face writer that confuses the two and misleads the public.

Ah, speculawyer, ain't that the truth! I have tried to explain this to people so many times, and they instantly forget what I've said and think it's actual oil. *sigh*

Maybe if they used the term "kerogen" for oil shale, they could avoid some of the confusion. But I am not sure they want to avoid confusion.


they most assuredly do NOT want to avoid the confusion...

they most assuredly do NOT want to avoid the confusion..


The whole game is the create the public perception that we would have enough oil for everyone to drive a Hummer, but those commie-pinko environmental wackos are preventing us from getting it. So they are creating a conventional wisdom that the US will be number one in oil within five years. Then when it doesn't happen, campaign to have the scapecoats tarred and feathered, and the oligarchs put firmly in charge.

Though for a second I thought someone in the MSM actually got it!


The U.S. Won't Be Energy Independent Even If We Pump More Oil Than Saudi Arabia

I should have known that it sounded too good to be true.

Yadda, yadda, yadda, same-o-same-o!

It pains me deeply to realize that humans will be clever enough to figure out how to turn the kerogen into profitable oil, but not clever enough to leave it alone.

Do you really think anyone here is so stupid that they'll buy this c**p you're posting? I can find the same type of stuff on a psuedo-science "free-energy" site.




I'm beginning to think that CalGuy is just a good old-fashioned troll. Trying to get a rise out of us, and in fact, succeeding. I wonder if he's the same as Cool One?

I'm beginning to think that CalGuy is just a good old-fashioned troll. Trying to get a rise out of us, and in fact, succeeding.

Im not sure if it is intentional or not, but he does seem to have descended to the level of the doom parade. I think CalGuy's posts on oil and biofuels in this thread are completely wrong, but they do function as a useful form of satire.

The experiment he seems to be accidentally conducting shows that no matter how idiotic a doomer comment is it is can never be subject to reproach, but even hint at optimism and face the avalanche of stone throwers: "troll', "propagandist", "sheeple", etc.

Doomer thought police.

Good point, Jack. Too many people are too ready to make the Fundamental Attribution Error. TOD used to be relatively free of that, once upon a time.

And not enough people are prepared to patiently go through the numbers when a newcomer asserts that he (it's usually a he) has the solution. I'll try to make more of an effort myself.

Edit: Not that CalGuy is a newcomer, of course. I was making a general observation.

No, Jack, not doomer thought police. And I reject your characterization of the forum.

I reject your saying that "no matter how idiotic a doomer comment is it is can never be subject to reproach, but even hint at optimism and face the avalanche of stone throwers: "troll', "propagandist", "sheeple", etc." It's not true, and seems a straw man argument.

If you can make a case for an optimistic scenario, go for it. But it had better not violate the laws of thermodynamics, for a start. And if you can refute an "idiotic doomer comment", go for that as well. In fact, it happens all the time around here without any avalanches. There are a wide spectrum of opinions here from across the spectrum from arch-doomer to techno-cornucopian.

This was more than "a hint of optimism". It was an expression of a recurrent deep misunderstanding of what the Green River Shale is, that has been clearly and fully rebutted here literally for years. Hard to imagine that anyone here would not have caught on to it by now.

There are such things as trolls on Internet fora, you know. People who say things just to get people riled.

Jack - I certainly fall on to the pessimistic side of the fence when it comes to our energy future. Being a geologist looking for oil/NG for the last 37 years has brought me to that position today. Thus many might tag me as a doomer. But since I don't subscribe to a Mad Max future many attribute to doomers I don't appear to qualify as a wacko. Depending on the specific subject I've offered both optimistic and pessimistic views.

With respect to the Green River Shale and its future I think a simple review of the current situation offers some pretty good insight. Despite all the silly "the damn govt won't let us develop the GRS" hype there are 100's of thousands of acres of privately owned GRS leases that could be acquired by just writing a check today. And probably not a very big check. Certainly the lease costs would be a great deal less than the extraction process itself. So the question is very simple: if there have been huge tracts of GRS lease available for many years and we've gone thru a sustained period of $90-100 oil prices why are we not producing hundreds of thousand bbls of GRS "oil" today?

Seems to be only two reasonable answers: either the technology doesn't exist or it does but the price of oil isn't high enough. In either case any optimism for future GRS development has to be based upon some great tech breakthrough or much higher oil prices. As far as tech breakthrough companies have been working towards that end for over 20 years and we still don't hear much optimism from the folks doing the research. And much higher oil prices? We saw what the spike in oil prices back in '08 did to the global economy. I find it difficult to imagine that companies investing $billions on GRS extraction would assume the economies could suddenly handle such a spike in the future and thus maintain those high prices. But that's just MHO.

I put it up as an example of what the media is reporting.

Ah, that's a relief! :-)

Must... Remember... Sarc... Tag...

About half the respondents got it.
The other half got their bells rung.

...funny thing about ringing a system with an impulse: it causes the system to read-out its transfer function. Some of these functions, like "thought police", have been excited before. "Ivory tower academics" is another oft heard.


Yes, I kinda figured that was what you were doing. However you should give some indication as to why you were posting it else people will misunderstand and think you really believed it. As they obviously did.

Ron P.

Mea culpa :-(

An American Oil "Find" that was "found" over 150 years ago - and it's farther away from commercial development than it was 150 years ago because the invention of the oil well wrecked the economics of oil shale mining.

Osram Sylvania first to market, according to liked article, with a '100W-lumen-equivalent' LED bulb...which consumes 20W


Phillips will put its contender on the market next month, according to the article.

Cost of the Silvania bulb is $50...stated cost savings from the manufacturer over the life of the bulb compared to an incandescent 100W bulb: $220 (let us see if the LED bulbs achieve their design life...and cheer on the possibility of the LED prices coming down).

My house is all-CFL save for three halogen spots I rarely use in my master bath...and I now have seven new MR16 3000K LEDs in my kitchen...a bit bluer than I wanted, but acceptable, using much less energy...and five bucks a pop from Amazon.

I also have a couple of 40W LEDs on sale from Lowes (~$12-$15 IIRC) installed upside down in recessed cans in my kitchen...light color for those acceptably warm.

My lighting energy use is ~ 1/4 of that I would use if I used incandescent lamps. Jevons is banned from my house...I am still the 'turn the lights off hard-nose'.

I wonder how many negawatts we could save in the entire U.S. if everyone replaced almost all their incandescent lamps with CFLs and/or LEDs? I wonder if subsidies from utilities would be a better ROI than building new power plants?

The disappointment is that all of the 100 watt = LEDs have CRI = 80. The L-Prize LED by Philips (my fav) has a CRI = 92 (and looks better than that IMHO).

Light quality makes a difference, especially if you are going to live with it for 20+ years.


CRI = Color Rendering Index

Subsidies from USA power cos? They'd probably charge you for cutting their ability to charge you for electricity.


Warning - PDF ahead!

You reminded me to look for the cost breakdown of my electric bill because I was trying to calculate out some things and realized that my rates changed on a monthly basis...which led me to believe that there was a fixed charge hiding somewhere. There was - but it got more interesting.

A4. DSM/EE Adjustment: This adjustment recovers the costs of offering demand-side management (DSM)and energy-efficiency (EE) programs. All programs are approved by the NCUC to ensure they assist customers in using electricity wisely. The DSM/EE charge is reviewed annually by the NCUC and adjusted to reflect changes in the actual costs incurred.

B. REPS* Charge: These are costs incurred for acquiring electric generation from renewable energy and
energy-efficiency resources such as solar, wind, hydroelectric, biomass and other sources. The REPS charge
is reviewed annually by the NCUC and adjusted to reflect changes in the actual costs incurred.
*REPS stands for “Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.”

"Subsidies from USA power cos? They'd probably charge you for cutting their ability to charge you for electricity."

They DO! So be the first in on the action and let everyone else pay for your upgrades too! :)

This is something that "negawatt" and "negabarrel" campaigners have long advocated. It's pretty cool. By all means get in on the ground floor.



We have it simpler, first X kWHrs low rate, second Y kWHrs medium rate, above gets high rate. Bill shows cost of production which is higher than you are being charged. Use too much and you pay ALL of it at the rate of production until you a good boy (or girl) again.



Bullet-train planners face huge engineering challenge

Despite Gillam's confidence, a lot could go wrong that would spike the cost. At this point, the rail authority estimates it will cost about $7.7 billion to build the 83 miles of rail from Bakersfield to Palmdale and about $12.5 billion to build the 58 miles of rail from Palmdale to Union Station.

If completed as planned, it would close a gap in the state's rail network. Passenger service through the Tehachapis was discontinued in 1971. Today, Amtrak passengers have to take a bus from downtown Los Angeles to Bakersfield to catch northbound trains.

New access roads and a corridor for high-voltage power lines will have to be carved through the Tehachapis to feed power-hungry trains. When completed and fully operational, the bullet train will need an estimated 2.7 million kilowatt hours of electricity each day — about a quarter of Hoover Dam's average daily output.

California's bullet train will have to operate over some of the nation's most seismically active terrain, and Gillam acknowledges that big quakes could cause a derailment.